Blog by Maria
Sustainable Merton Community Champion
There has been a huge increase in cycling and walking during the pandemic, as the streets emptied of cars, and more people took advantage of the daily outdoor exercise allowance.
However, as the UK Government has begun to plan the route out of lockdown, walking and cycling needs to be supported and encouraged. Last year, the Government announced £2bn of funding for walking and cycling, with proposals such as low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and improved cycle lanes and walkways.
The benefits of cycling are numerous, with health and fitness continuing to be one of the key motivators. Other motivators include cost-saving over other modes of transportation, cycling being an enjoyable and convenient way to commute, and a social activity to do with family and friends. More recently, there has been a substantial growth in the number of bicycle users who consider the environmental advantages (e.g. better air quality, less congestion, more efficient transport) as their main motivator. The most common barriers cited for people not taking up cycling include fear of being involved in a collision, too much traffic, poor road conditions and lack of confidence.
After taking up cycling more seriously for the past year, I fell in love with it, and want to see more residents in Merton cycling. With collision risks and lack of safety being the most relevant discouraging factors, I do agree that cycling is a personal choice based on both the benefits and risks. However, with a greater proportion of the population being willing to cycle, there will be increased demand and pressure on the Government to address these issues and allow for greater cycling infrastructure improvements.
Safety on the road is the main deterrent to people taking up cycling, and in many instances, this can play an especially important role in making someone afraid of cycling in traffic. However, there are some points I would like to address. Please note, this is aimed at people who already know how to cycle.