Britain way behind Europe in cycling infrastructure development, report finds

Data says only 27% of people in UK feel their local cycling infrastructure has improved in the last year

A rider on an e-bike
(Image credit: Andy Donohoe)

The annual “State of the Nation” report released by Shimano has shown that only 27% of surveyed people in the UK think that their local cycling infrastructure has improved in the past year. 

More than 2,000 British people participated in the study, as part of a wider group of 15,500 people across 12 European countries. In comparison to the UK's 27%, an average of 39% across all of the countries involved felt that cycling infrastructure had improved. A study earlier this year found that a lack of infrastructure is one of the biggest factors preventing people from cycling.

The Covid pandemic saw huge numbers of people worldwide opting to use bikes for a variety of purposes with a wider aim of avoiding public transport. The research shows that the UK is behind other countries in ensuring that its cycling infrastructure helps to reinforce those cultural and lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic. 

Compared to countries like France and Poland, where 49% and 56% respectively of people feel that cycling infrastructure has improved, Shimano’s findings show that the UK is lagging behind in developments. 

This research was undertaken as part of the wider report which is to be used to assess attitudes and insights towards the use of the best electric bikes across Europe and comes hot on the heels of another study which found that half of Londoners want a car free city.

Jonathan Davis, PR and communications manager for Shimano Europe (opens in new tab) said the findings were fascinating and enabled the company to identify key trends in the e-bike market. 

“We are delighted to be launching our fourth State of the Nation report. Based on a poll of over 15,500 people across Europe, it aims to examine the motivations of e-bike users and better understand the attitudes to e-bikes and cycling more widely,” he said

''The findings are fascinating and allow us to identify key trends in the market. The awareness of (and even attitudes towards) those who interact with an e-bike in some way are shifting upwards.”

When respondents were asked about a variety of factors that might encourage someone to buy or hire an e-bike now compared to one year ago, economic factors such as the cost of living crisis and purchase subsidies came out as the dominating factors in the poll. 

37% of people in the UK also cited knowing that they would reduce their environmental impact, as a factor that might encourage someone to buy or hire an e-bike, compared to 33% across Europe. 

WHO DO YOU THINK E-BIKES ARE FOR?

E-bike rider

(Image credit: Andy Donohoe)

Across Europe, within those citing environmental impact as a factor in choosing e-bikes, the percentage was highest at 37% amongst the ages 18-24, and higher for women at 36% compared to 30% for men. The factor of environmental concerns also came out higher in both Italy and Spain, which could be seen as a response to extreme weather events recently seen in both of the countries.

Shimano has also sought to understand the perceptions and stereotypes that exist around e-bike usage.

They asked the question: “Who do you think e-bikes are for?”

In the UK the main factors that came to the top of the surface were environmentally conscious people, commuters and elderly people.

Jim Cherrington, senior lecturer in sport and physical activity at Sheffield Hallam University (opens in new tab) said that he hopes the report will help to shape understanding of how riders experience and make sense of e-bike usage.

“My hope is this report, and others like it, will facilitate further interpretation of how riders experience, make sense of, and attach meaning to e-bikes, whilst helping to paint a more complex picture of future trends and developments,” he said.

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