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UK cyclists take different paths
Date:6/19/2012

Vast differences in cycling cultures have been found in UK cities; for some cycling is a traditional transport accessible to all while for others it is a new edgy, urban subculture according to recent findings from a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). "We wanted to find out what British cycling cultures were like, what supported them, and what local and national factors continue to exist as barriers", says Dr Rachel Aldred from the University of East London.

The Cycling Cultures study looked at attitudes to cycling in four different English city locations Bristol, Cambridge, Hull, and Hackney in London and found striking contrasts. Although these locations have cycle-to-work rates that are at least twice the UK average (2.8 per cent), this was not especially high compared to European standards. For example, ten per cent of all trips are cycled in Germany with even more (25 per cent) in the Netherlands.

"When an activity like cycling is seen as something alien to national identity, local identity looms large", says Dr Aldred. "Some UK cities have a long-standing tradition of cycling as a means of transport, while in other areas cycling for an adult is a relatively new activity."

Both Hull and Cambridge were chosen because of their traditional cycling cultures. In these cities, cycling is seen as an everyday activity that people choose because it makes sense for their journey; or because in the past they did not have other options. In Cambridge, cycling is considered 'normal', with people of all ages and abilities taking part; while in Hull cycling is associated more with the city's past, when few people could afford cars, than with its present.

In contrast, cycling has become popular in Bristol and Hackney more recently. In Bristol there are bike festivals and parades, while Hackney has seen the greatest rise in cycling rates over the last decade of any London borough. In these locations, cycling h
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Contact: Pressoffice
Pressoffice@esrc.ac.uk
Economic & Social Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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