Banning cars in town centre gives huge boost to cycling, according to council

The decision to reduce cars has increased bicycle movements by more than 200%

Vehicles have been banned from parts of Cheltenham town centre (Picture: Cheltenham Borough Council)

The decision to ban cars from a town centre has led to a 200% increase in bicycle movements, according to the council.

Cheltenham Borough Council decided to ban most traffic from part of the town earlier this year, in an attempt to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

Only cyclists, taxis, buses and emergency services have been allowed to use ‘Boots Corner’ and the high street area of Cheltenham since June as part of a trial.

The council has revealed that the initial results from the trial have shown an 84% increase in footfall and 206% increase in cycling.

James Cleeton, director for the transport charity Sustrans, said: “The initial findings from the trial are extremely encouraging and demonstrate the positive impact reducing vehicles from the centre can have.

“An 84% increase in pedestrian movement can only have a positive impact on the local economy, air quality and create a vibrant place to spend time and travel through.

“We will be watching with interest to see the impact the trial has on the immediate and surrounding areas of the town.”

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Data taken from the first two weeks of the trial has shown the increase in bicycle movements and pedestrian footfall, and is compared to information taken before the trial.

The average number of pedestrians sat around the fountain area has increased by 19%, while the number of wheelchair and mobility scooter users has also increased by 55%.

The number of vehicles travelling through Boots Corner is down by 85%.

According to the council, the number of parked bicycles dropped by 38%, but this was due to railing being removed.

New bike stands have been put in place and the council expects the figure to increase.

Cheltenham Borough Council’s cabinet member for development and safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay said: “Overall, the data so far suggests that the trial road closure has not had a negative impact on visitors to the high street, actually the reverse.

“We can see that people travel into town far more by public transport, bike or on foot.

“These are the people who are spending money in our shops, enjoying our cafes, bars and restaurants and our wider cultural offer.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.