9:36am Tuesday 15th April 2014
By Sarah Yates
PEDAL power in the Five Valleys is 10 per cent greater than the increase in the neighbouring town of Cheltenham – where the number cycling to work has risen by just four per cent.
More people are cycling to work in Stroud and Cheltenham in line with the national trend of an increase of people choosing to commute to work by bike.
New data supplied by the National Office of Statistics reveal that in the last 10 years, the number of people cycling to work in Stroud has increased by 14 percent, while Cheltenham has increased by four percent.
In 2001, it was recorded that in Stroud 1,048 people chose to cycle on their commute to work whilst in 2011 the number of cycling commuters had increased to 1,197.
Speaking to Active Gloucestershire last year, British Cycling’s Director of Coaching, Education and Development, John Mills, was thrilled to see an increase.
He said: “Success on the podium at the Olympics and the triumphs at the Tour de France have clearly inspired the next generation to get involved – and this interest is still going strong.”
“British Cycling is also hugely successful at inspiring new people ride. More than 2million people now cycle every week across the country. We’re working to increase this further and we want to see much more everyday cycling by creating a more desirable cycling environment”.
In contrast to the increase in Stroud and Cheltenham, other Gloucestershire districts have shown an alarmingly significant drop; with 26% in the Cotswolds, 11% in the Forest of Dean, 7% in Tewkesbury, 5% in Gloucester now choosing other forms of transport on their commute.
CCL Paul Hodgkinson, Cotswold Liberal Democrat MP hopeful (GCC, Bourton and Northleach), blames the decrease in the Cotswolds on the condition of the Gloucestershire Highways and has called for the County Council to use cash from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund to improve road conditions.
“In rural areas the roads feel lethal. Friends who are ‘would-be-cyclists’ won’t cycle anywhere whilst the roads feel so intimidating”, he said.
“I cycle on roads but don’t feel very safe and would do more of it if the conditions were better”.
“These new figures suggest that making rural roads pot hole free and providing space for cyclists does work”.
Kirsty Dunleavy, the Relationship Manager for British Cycling at Active Gloucestershire, is also an advocate to see more people involved in cycling and cycling to work.
She said: “Gloucestershire is fortunate to have many spectacular footpaths, rights of way and cycleways that give people the opportunity to cycle”.
“Research shows that for every hour of cycling around an hour will be added to your life expectancy. It’s good for you, has no major ongoing cost, and gets you to work while you’re doing it”.
“There’s a growing misconception that cycling is more dangerous than it actually is. The reality is that, unlike most other forms of transport, cycling keeps you fit and alive”.
“The more cyclists there are, the safer it gets – safety in numbers. The challenge lies in making it clear just how safe cycling is, so get on your bike. You’re not only extending your life expectancy, you could be saving others”.
If you want to find out more about how you can get involved with cycling and cycling to work, contact Active Gloucestershire – www.activegloucestershire.org
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