Recent study shows increase in weekly cycling despite barriers
The 2021 Walking and Cycling Index commissioned by national cycling charity Sustrans revealed that 1 in 4 Tower Hamlets residents have been cycling weekly, compared with 1 in 10 in 2019.
The uptake in cycling includes a yearly average of 8000 trips a day using Transport for London’s (TfL) Santander Cycles, a figure that has doubled since 2019.
Residents of the borough do however still face barriers to participation in cycling, and participation is not equal. Access to bicycles and safety are the most significant barriers to cycling.
Women are 1.5 times less likely to cycle at least once a week than men, and people in the top two socio-economic groups are twice as likely to cycle than those in the bottom three socio-economic groups.
Only 30% of disabled people and 41% of non-disabled people think cycling safety in Tower Hamlets is good. 27% of residents think their area has a good level of safety for children cyclists.
Undoubtedly there is demand for change. 29% of women, 33% of people from ethnic minority groups, and 20% of disabled people said they ‘do not cycle but would like to’.
Initiatives like Cycle Sisters, the All Ability Cycling Club and Chrisp Street Community Cycles are encouraging cycling in the borough and addressing inequalities in cycling.
Sabeha Miah set up the Tower Hamlets Cycle Sisters group in 2020, organising weekly social rides for muslim women.
Over 200 residents with physical and learning disabilities have engaged in the programme at the All Ability Cycling Club.
338 residents, of whom 80% were female and 88% were from ethnic minorities, engaged with Chrisp Street Community Cycles, where you can borrow a bike for free, get advice about cycling, go on social rides and receive cycle skills training.
The Walking and Cycling Index is the biggest assessment of walking and cycling in urban areas in the UK and Ireland. Tower Hamlets is the only London borough to be a part of it.
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