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UK cycling infrastructure lagging behind Europe, study reveals



UK cycling infrastructure lagging behind Europe, study reveals

The UK’s cycling infrastructure is lagging behind its European counterparts, according to an analysis by PeopleForBikes.

It has included the UK in its city ratings for the first time, assessing 89 cities in 2024. UK cities received an average score of 60 out of a possible 100, slightly lower than the rest of Europe with cities scoring an average of 64. 

PeopleForBikes was first established in 2017. Its city ratings tool scores and measures the quality and connectivity of each city’s cycle network, including its protected cycle lanes and bike paths, along with its low speed limits and safe crossings for people on bikes.

The UK’s top-rated cities were also found to have low speed limits (20mph) on roads connecting neighbourhoods and offer their residents multiple safe routes to everyday destinations. High-scoring cities also feature good connections to neighbouring cities via protected bike lanes and off-street paths, including across bridges.

In terms of major cities, Birmingham lagged behind counterparts London and Manchester – despite the fact it was considered the most amenable area to cycling in the West Midlands.

Cambridge was rated as the UK’s best city overall for cycling, with London boroughs Hackney and Islington not far behind. However, London as a whole was only rated at 69, with Bromley, Harrow and Barnet bringing down the overall score due to their poor cycling provisions.

Speaking to The Birmingham Mail, PeopleForBikes CEO Jenn Dice said: “The data for England clearly shows that despite significant recent funding in cycling infrastructure, the West Midlands continues to lag behind both London and Greater Manchester. We’re hoping that the data is valuable for local authorities, campaigners and everyone who wants to see more and better bike infrastructure.”

According to Cycling UK, the transport option has been growing in popularity over the last three decades. It estimates around 2.5 billion miles were cycled in the UK in 1993, growing to an average of 3.5 billion in the years 2015-2019. The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 saw this grow significantly to 5.3 billion milles, before dipping to 4.2 billion in 2021.

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