On your bike! Is cycling the answer to our carbon emissions problem?

GK recently published a blog about zero emissions cars, looking at the government’s Road to Zero Strategy. However, electric vehicles are not the only solution to becoming a greener traveller. In recent months the government has announced a number of plans to make life better for cyclists. This includes changes to the highway code, a cycling training manual and new road safety laws. Furthermore, infrastructure investment to develop better cycle routes offers more people the option of cycling easily and safely. Thanks to such investment, 60% of journeys in London could now be taken on bike.

So, should cycling organisations and those involved in the industry be engaging with the government to promote their position and encourage more projects such as these? It seems like the perfect time to do so. Not only does cycling allow an eco-friendly lifestyle, it has incredible health benefits. These benefits can be both mental and physical – supporting the government’s efforts in these areas.

However, despite the many benefits and the recent moves the government has made to make cyclists’ lives easier, cyclists are still faced with daily problems- notably poor-quality roads. A YouGov survey earlier this year found that more than half of people say they would cycle more if roads were in a better condition. While more cycling routes are being built, it is impossible for every route a cyclist may want to take have one. Therefore cyclists must often use badly kept, potholed roads. However, road conditions such as these are the responsibility of local councils, not central government.

Cycling routes in major cities have been improved greatly, such as in London with the superhighways. However, smaller towns continue to suffer from worse road conditions. Furthermore, it is in these smaller towns that cycling could make the some of the greatest impacts environmentally. While Londoners have a wide range of public transport options, for many around the country the only other alternative is driving.

Therefore, if the Government is truly committed to its Road to Zero Strategy it should not only focus on zero emission vehicle technology, but the natural zero emission transport mode of a bike. So, what could the government seek to do? Potentially invest significantly into cycling infrastructure outside the major metropolitan centres, and perhaps offer grants on bikes as it does on electric cars. Furthermore, it could promote safe cycling classes and workshops, both for adults and children.

The cycling policy landscape is being developed and certainly one for shaping.

 

To find out more about how GK could help you shape the policy landscape around cycling or another issue, why not look at our Impact pages.

See more articles by Charlotte Stockton