New Tool Helps Measure Future Cycling Demand and Plan Routes

Posted on By Emu Bikes,

A 2011 census showed that in England only 4.4% of all commuting trips were done by bicycle and across Britain less than one in 30 people cycle to work. But how can the UK look to increase this?

While country wide statistics suggest Brits are not keen to pedal to work, Cambridge have very high cycling levels, where around one in 3 adults commute to work by bike and one in five journeys overall are made by bike. This is largely due to the ease of cycle hire, numerous bike parking and cycle racks and dedicated network of cycle lanes which make it easy to access the train station and city centre from homes and work places.

So it looks like the obvious answer is to build more cycle routes which keep cyclists away from busy road traffic. But where should these cycle lanes be added?

How the Propensity to Cycle Tool Works

Usual methods of measuring future traffic development focuses more on motorised transport, but a new technology is looking to change this.

The Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) is an open source web tool which allows urban planners to visualize and estimate cycling potential across England. This makes it far easier to plan residential cycling services such as hiring, parking and routes. It does this by accessing which current motorised transport trips could be easily switched to cycling, based on distance and hilliness.

How the Data can be Used

Outlined in the governments 2014 Cycling Delivery Plan is a target to double cycling by 2025. The tool takes account of this increased demand to see where cycling development is most needed. It also looks into three other areas which may affect UK cycling habits in the future:

1. e-Bikes: with the raise in electric bike sales across Europe (something that we covered in a recent blog post), the tool takes into account that riders are more willing to take longer and hillier cycling routes.

2. Gender Gap: in England 75% of all cycle commutes are by men. This scenario calculates how cycling levels might change if just as many women cycled to work.

3. Go Dutch: this scenario shows what might happen if the UK reached average Dutch commuter cycling levels of one in five people cycling to work, greatly increasing demand for bike services.

The tool is still in early stages and is being tested in range of cities including London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Leicester.

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