Utility cycling, or cycling as a means of transportation rather than for recreation or leisure, has long been a cheap and convenient way to get around for some. However since the 1950s, the proportion of people making journeys by bicycle in the UK has been steadily decreasing. Reasons for this include the dominance of the car, increases in wealth and living standards and longer commutes. This is the opposite of the situation in most European countries where cycling remains a popular form of urban transportation.
The transport sector is responsible for 25% of the United Kingdom’s total CO2 emissions as well as producing localised environmental damage through road building, emissions, congestion and noise pollution. Cycling is seen as one of the ways of replacing some of these journeys especially given the fact that 23% of car journeys are less than 2 miles; a distance that could be cycled in around 15 minutes. So why do people not make these journeys? Have they abandoned the bike for a more comfortable and perceived safer way of travelling?
In this essay I am going to examine why the UK performs so poorly compared to other countries for journeys by bicycle. I will look at cycling and government policy, some of the attitudes and issues that may be stopping people from cycling and possible solutions for the future.