Anybody who has been out riding their bike in Canberra will have noticed that more men cycle here than women. For every woman cycling in the ACT, there are two men. In English speaking countries this is quite normal, but in Europe women and men are just as likely to ride. That is what we call a cycling culture, and it could happen here as well if we invested our efforts.
The second part of this article will follow tomorrow.
Understanding why people cycle
The Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT ) is an online, open source transport planning system from the UK. The work was initiated by the UK Government and involved a substantial amount of research into why people cycle to identify the factors that most likely to get people on bikes.
“The PCT was designed to assist transport planners and policy makers to prioritise investments and interventions to promote cycling. The PCT answers the question: ‘where is cycling currently common and where does cycling have the greatest potential to grow?’.”About the Propensity to Cycle Tool, http://www.pct.bike, accessed 25/8/2020
“The work was initially funded by the English Department for Transport (DfT) to create the National Propensity to Cycle Tool for England (2015-2017, with further funding in 2018-19).”About the Propensity to Cycle Tool, http://www.pct.bike, accessed 25/8/2020
Comparing cycling in England and the Netherlands
Travel to the Netherlands and you will notice that everybody rides there – in some towns as much as 75%. The Netherlands has a mature cycling culture, and they have been working on cycling since the oil crisis in the early ’70s.
A short distance away in the UK very few people cycle. London is only 357km away from Amsterdam, making the difference all the more remarkable.
The PCT team compared their current circumstances (largely from the UK 2011 Census), and referred to them as the “baseline”, with that which is possible and normal in the Netherlands, which they call “Go Dutch”.
What they found
“People in the Netherlands make 26.7% of trips by bicycle, fifteen times higher than the figure of 1.7% in England. In addition, cycling in England is skewed towards younger, male cyclists. By contrast in the Netherlands cycling remains common into older age, and women are in fact slightly more likely to cycle than men”Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) – Additional FAQs, accessed 2/5/2020
The difference is best shown in the graphs. Men are much more likely to cycle than women in England. In the Netherlands, there is no real difference. Women are 20 to 80 times more likely to cycle in the Netherlands than in England.
Graph 1 and 2: The proportion of trips cycled in England and Netherlands stratified by age and sex
Graph 3: The ratio of cycle mode share in the Netherlands versus England, stratified by age and sex
Potential for cycling
The cultures in the UK and Netherlands are generally not that dissimilar due to their close ties over hundreds of years. Their cycling cultures, however, are quite different. The UK believes that it is possible to increase cycling participation significantly, and sets the Netherlands as the standard of what is achievable.
In the ACT there is also a huge potential for improvement. Much can be learnt from the research done for the PCT.