Bristol has reached a “major tipping point” in how people commute according to a report from its City Council, with driving no longer the norm for under-40s.
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The figures, released last week and based on 2011 census data, show cycling to work in Bristol has almost doubled in 10 years to 7.6% of commutes, and that more people commute by bike here than in any other local authority in England and Wales.
Among under-40s, 57% of Bristolians travel to work by other means than the private car, either walking, cycling or using public transport.
Ian Barrett, South West Director for Sustrans said: “This is fantastic news for the health of Bristol’s people and prosperity. Increasing numbers of people walking, cycling and catching buses means that Bristol can continue to grow at the same time as improving our environment by reducing the impacts of heavy traffic on our streets, our safety and our air quality.”
In 1971 2.6% of Bristol residents cycled to work, that number slowly increasing until between 2001 and 2011, when the sudden boom in cycling took place.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Bristol, which is home to Sustrans’ headquarters, has been able to invest money in cycling during this time, from being one of the UK’s first Cycling Cities in 2008, through Local Sustainable Transport Funding in 2012 to last year’s share of the £7.8m government Cycle City Ambition Fund.
During this time the census showed no net increase in cycling across the UK, which campaigners say is a result of insufficient funding outside of showcase cities like Bristol.
Cycle use, which is up 94% in ten years in Bristol, is still dominated by men aged 25-39 with degrees and in full time occupation, who commute 2-5km. Meanwhile the number of women cycling in the city doubled from 2.3% to 4.6%.
The report also shows that 44,000 people in the city still commute less than 5km by car.
Barrett added: “Lots more people are enjoying the benefits of cycling to work and we know that many more want to cycle, but are concerned about safety.”
“Sustrans’ welcomes the new [Bristol Draft] Cycle Strategy announced by the Council…which promises a £35m investment to make cycling safer and simpler. The more we invest the more we ensure that everyone from age 8-80 can confidently get around by bike as well as by walking and public transport”.
The Bristol Draft Cycle Strategy, which sets out Bristol City Council’s strategic aims for cycling in the city, is open for public consultation here: www.citizenspace.com/bristol/city-transport/cycle-strategy.