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Survey suggests vast majority want streets to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists

Joseph Delves
23 Jul 2020

Campaigners are still managing to squash green travel initiatives despite majority support

A sizeable YouGov poll has shown the vast majority of Brits support redesigning streets to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. A massive 80% of the 2,000 people surveyed expressed a preference for reshaping our infrastructure to protect pedestrians and cyclists from motorists.

However, at a time when the Government has made funds available for reshaping the road networks as part of its response to Covid-19, a vocal minority are still managing to shout down schemes.

With works allocating more space to cyclists and pedestrians rapidly introduced across the country, 89 different local authorities have implemented a total of 503 temporary measures.

Even so, not all have been successful, with measures due in Ealing, Wandsworth, South Gloucestershire, Trafford, Portsmouth and Surrey cancelled after public opposition.

For and against

Aside from what appears to be broad support for such initiatives, the survey also suggests one potential reason the above measures have stalled. Alongside gauging individuals’ attitudes, the poll also investigated what people believed other people’s opinions were.

Its finding was that most vastly over-estimated other respondents’ levels of opposition.

While 3.26 people supporting the view that ‘Britain would be better if more people cycled’ for every 1 against, those same people on average perceived levels of support to be just 1.74 in favour for every 1 person against. You can find all the stats and methodology here.

It’s possible this underestimation of support is allowing a vocal minority to exert an outsized influence on planning decisions.

With any changes to road layout that takes space away from motor vehicles normally ending up in a mass social media pile-on, the report should give policymakers confidence to stick by pro-people – pedestrian and cyclist – policies.

The report from respected pollsters YouGov was commissioned by BikeIsBest, a campaign to increase space for safer walking and cycling.

‘The small minority getting all revved up about their right to drive are having their voices heard through sheer volition. If the silent majority want to see this new, greener, better Britain, they need to act now or face going back to the old normal, with polluted and dangerous streets,’ explained spokesperson Adam Tranter.

‘When 20mph streets were first proposed, pro-motoring groups were whipped up into a frenzy, just as they are today. In 2017, data showed that the proportion opposed to residential 20mph limits was just 10%.

'The same is happening here with measures to enable more people to switch their journeys to cycling and walking.’

The group is campaigning to make measures introduced during the current crisis stick and ensure implementation of the guidance issued by the Department for Transport regarding getting more people walking and cycling.

With a £250-million emergency active travel fund already released, this will form the first stage of a £2-billion investment promised by the government this May.

With both the public and central Government seemingly on board, the campaign hopes to make sure initiatives aren’t derailed at the local level.

You can find more information at bikeisbest.com