On yer bike - more workers snub the car
WORKERS appear to be embracing a healthier lifestyle in parts of East Anglia and are increasingly turning to pedal power to get to the office.In Suffolk, 50% more people now cycle to work compared to five years ago, according to new research.
By Danielle Nuttall
WORKERS appear to be embracing a healthier lifestyle in parts of East Anglia and are increasingly turning to pedal power to get to the office.
In Suffolk, 50% more people now cycle to work compared to five years ago, according to new research. The figure now stands at 23,000 compared to 15,532 in 2001.
It represents 7% of the county's entire working population but, surprisingly, the number of accidents involving cyclists has fallen during this period by 24%.
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The figures are contained in a report to Suffolk County Council's roads and transport scrutiny committee, updating members on their efforts to promote cycling in the county.
Since 2001, the council has invested £4million on new facilities including cycle lanes, tracks and road crossings. This has resulted in 27 miles worth of new tracks.
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Nationally, cycling has been declining due to increased car ownership, people choosing to live further away from their place of work, lack of facilities for cyclists such as secure parking and the risks associated with growing levels of car traffic.
But Suffolk appears to be bucking the trend. “People are now opting to cycle as a positive lifestyle choice that benefits their health and the environment,” the report says.
“This is particularly evident for the journey to work where cycle use has consistently increased between 2001 and 2006.
“The bicycle is ideal for journeys between 3km and 8km (two to five miles), typical of many people's journey to work.
“Journeys of this length are easy to cycle, often as fast by bike as they would be by car, and easily provide the minimum recommended daily exercise needed for a healthy life.”
Retailers have certainly noticed a cycle boom in the county.
Keith White, director of Ranelagh Cycle Warehouse in Ipswich, said the number of shops selling cycles had risen tremendously.
“There are probably twice as many shops or people selling bikes. The kids used to be the ones buying the bikes but it seems to have moved away from children. We have definitely seen an increase in adults buying bikes.”
Mark Mason, the council's travel plan co-ordinator, said: “When we moved to Endeavour House we set ourselves some targets for different modes of transport and intended to increase cycling, but we have done better than that.”
Suffolk is already outperforming many other counties in cycling rates.
A survey carried out between 2002 and 2004 revealed that cycle use remained low in Essex.
Just 3% of journeys to work were made by bike, compared to 61% by driving and 8% as a car passenger.
Suffolk County Council is now preparing to develop a new cycling strategy to further increase cycling rates throughout the county, which will be discussed at a meeting on October 5.