Cycling initiatives in England have had a positive effect on the numbers of people cycling to work, including among those from the most deprived areas, according to a new study published in Social Science & Medicine.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in partnership with CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit used census data to look at the impact of town-level cycling initiatives across the six Cycling Demonstration Towns (funded 2005-2011) and 12 Cycling Cities and Towns (funded 2008-2011). These initiatives took place outside London and were tailored to each town, but all included investment in infrastructure such as new cycle lanes and cycle parking, alongside investment in activities such as cycle training.
Overall, the proportion of people cycling to work in the intervention towns increased from 5.8% in 2001 to 6.8% in 2011, a significant increase in absolute terms and also an increase relative to the comparison towns. Walking to work also increased, while the number of people driving to work decreased.
The researchers also looked at the effects across different socio-economic groups, and found that the relative increase in cycling to work was greatest among those who lived in the most deprived areas. These findings suggest that the interventions not only promote improved health, but also greater health equity.