Cyclist numbers overtake car drivers on key main roads, data shows

Cycling UK say that "vision and investment" is needed from local and national government to get more people on bikes

Cycling city
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cyclists now outnumber motorists on certain A-roads in the UK, including key streets in London, according to analysis of 2020 Department of Transport data.

As much as 87 per cent of traffic on sections of Lambeth Road in south London is made up by cyclists, and 81 per cent of traffic on Royal Mint Street in the City of London is people on bikes, the Sunday Times reported (opens in new tab).

There are four more locations in the capital where the majority of traffic is cyclists, between 55 per cent and 63 per cent, and in 35 locations across the UK bicycles outnumber cars and and taxis on an average day.

Speaking on Monday, Cycling UK's head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, said that it was "not surprising", and that there is an appetite for cycling when the environment for it is there.

“It’s not surprising to see these figures," he said. "Often these A-roads are part of an urban network of cycle routes, which may also include protected space for cycling. What they do show, as we’ve seen in cities across the UK such as London, Glasgow and Cardiff, is that there’s an appetite for cycling those short journeys if the conditions are right."

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He continued: "That builds on what the pandemic showed us when the roads were quieter – the UK is made up of nations of would-be-cyclists. With council elections in England, Scotland and Wales and national elections in Northern Ireland this May, there’s a real opportunity to tell our local decision makers what we all want and need to make cycling safer.

“More people cycling, especially for shorter journeys, is possible. But it requires vision and investment from local and national governments – and for these bodies to make that sort of commitment they need to hear that message loud and clear from all of us.”

Research from Cycling UK shows that there are roads in Bristol, Cambridge, Brighton and Oxford where there has been an increase in the number of cyclists on an average day by over 2000 between 2000 and 2020.

The A38 in central Bristol, Anchor Road, saw a growth of 4122 cyclists over the twenty years, for example.

The busiest A-road in the UK for cyclists in the UK is in Oxford, with the High Street seeing 14,700 on an average day, compared with 11,700 cars and other vehicles.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, is reportedly to announce £338 million of spending on low-traffic neighbourhoods, protected bike lanes, and “mini-Holland” outside of London this month.

Also, he is due to appoint the first national cycling and walking commissioner for England, to oversee a new body, Active Travel England.

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