Drivers reluctant to ditch cars despite cycling benefits

The majority of car drivers have no plans to ditch their vehicles due to concerns over cycling safety.

Scotland would be a better place if more people cycled, according to a survey of more than 1000 people.

Cycling Scotland research found positive attitudes towards the activity due to the health and environment benefits.

But it also revealed the majority of car drivers have no plans to ditch their vehicles and concerns over cycling safety and a lack of convenience mean most people are unlikely to be getting on their bikes anytime soon.

Cycling Scotland conducted 13-minute interviews with 1,049 people.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) people living in Scotland agreed that for the sake of the environment it would be better if more people cycled.

The proportion of people citing the environment as a factor in why they cycle has almost doubled since 2017, the research found, up from 12% to 22%, with women more than three times as likely to mention environmental reasons than men.

Most people had positive attitudes towards cycling, saying it improves health and well-being (92%) and Scotland would be a better place if more people used bikes (65%).

High numbers of children continue to ride their bikes, with 61% of them cycling weekly.

A similar study by the cycling body in 2017 found three-quarters of people who did not cycle said they were very unlikely to cycle in the future.

This response reduced to two-thirds in 2019.

Other findings in the survey were less positive for cycling enthusiasts.

While there was a slight rise in the number of people cycling from 2017, 78% said they never use a bike for everyday journeys, with the figure dropping to 71% for leisure activities.

Those who do cycle are more likely to be financially well off, male and under 55.

While 44% of those interviewed said they were interested in reducing their car use, the majority still had little interest in the idea – with 32% firmly opposed.

Some 72% of drivers would rather use their cars than other transport, citing the freedom it brings as the prime reason.

Keith Irving, chief executive of Cycling Scotland, said: “This research is important as it provides a snapshot of how attitudes towards cycling are changing and helps inform where to direct our efforts.

“It’s encouraging to see the environmental agenda influencing transport choices and people saying how cycling could help to shape a greener, cleaner Scotland. But, that said, there is a lot of work still to be done.

“As we enter a new decade, dedicated, inclusive cycling infrastructure – that reflects the various everyday journeys that people make – continues to be the biggest priority.”

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