India Markets closed
  • BSE SENSEX

    49,034.67
    -549.53 (-1.11%)
     
  • Nifty 50

    14,433.70
    -161.90 (-1.11%)
     
  • USD/INR

    73.1600
    +0.0200 (+0.0274%)
     
  • Dow

    30,814.26
    -177.24 (-0.57%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,998.50
    -114.10 (-0.87%)
     
  • BTC-INR

    2,628,116.00
    +68,499.75 (+2.68%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    701.93
    -33.21 (-4.52%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    28,573.86
    +76.96 (+0.27%)
     
  • Nikkei

    28,519.18
    -179.12 (-0.62%)
     
  • EUR/INR

    88.3766
    -0.5798 (-0.65%)
     
  • GBP/INR

    99.3974
    -0.3551 (-0.36%)
     
  • AED/INR

    19.8740
    +0.0260 (+0.13%)
     
  • INR/JPY

    1.4161
    -0.0010 (-0.07%)
     
  • SGD/INR

    55.0230
    -0.1580 (-0.29%)
     

Exclusive: Cyclists shun roads designed to be bike friendly in £250m scheme

Steve Bird
·3-min read
Harrow's cycle lane - Paul Grover
Harrow's cycle lane - Paul Grover

There are 400 cars, lorries and vans for every cyclist using some green roads in cities around Britain, a Sunday Telegraph investigation has found.

Analysis of eight new cycle-friendly routes introduced to promote more active forms of travel revealed few cyclists were using them compared with other vehicles during the morning and afternoon rush hour last week.

The investigation has prompted questions about whether the £250 million so-called "green transport revolution" introduced by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, intended to promote cycling and walking, is changing patterns of transport behaviour.

The research shows that on some routes where cycle lanes have taken up carriageways previously used by cars they may actually contribute to more congestion and pollution as traffic jams build up, meaning some motorists may have taken longer to reach their destinations.

Traffic counts were conducted in Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Gloucester, Hull, Liverpool and Southampton on either Thursday and Friday.

The types of vehicles passing a single point were totted up to produce the most in-depth picture of how new cycle lanes were operating over two and a half hours for rush hours.

The locations were chosen because there was no heavy rain or winds or freezing conditions which could have deterred cyclists from taking to the roads. Because the count was conducted during lockdown the real figures could soar when people are due to work once all restrictions are lifted.

However, the 608 people cycling on all eight monitored routes represented just 1.75 per cent of the total 34,726 vehicles counted. The least used cycle lane was in Bradford where only 31 cyclists travelled to the West Yorkshire city compared to the 12,306 motorised vehicles over the same five-hour period on Thursday. Bicycles represented just 0.25 per cent of all traffic on that Wakefield Road during the rush hours.

The new single cycle lane removed one of the former three lanes heading into the city. The count showed that at peak times traffic ground to a near halt with vehicles being forced to stop and start for 30 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. At its worst on both occasions, the tailback measured about a third of a mile and consisted of up to 30 cars.

During that congestion, only four cyclists used the cycle lane in the morning, with six counted in the afternoon.

Since May Bradford council has spent more than £500,000 on cycle lanes. The move has been welcomed by Bradford Cycling Campaign, which gave Wakefield Road's new layout "six or seven out of 10" on its website adding how it was "a lot safer". The campaign group wrote how "to our surprise here was a fully taken lane for the benefit of cyclists" and it was "somewhat embarrassed by ... the amount of space we seemed now to be entitled to!"

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The majority of people are supportive of measures to encourage cycling and walking and our active travel funding has led to the creation of new schemes across the country, delivering real benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

"However, some changes, both in London and further afield, have not been as successful, which is why the Transport Secretary has written to local authorities, making clear that their schemes must benefit the whole community or funding will be withheld."

Edmund King, the AA president, said: "Too many of these schemes have backfired, causing gridlock for buses, emergency services, residents and deliveries."