Women, elderly and disabled face cycling ‘neglect’

12.04 | 13 June 2019 |

A third of disabled people in UK cities would like to start cycling but are being held back by ‘systematic barriers’, according to a new report.

The report, authored by active travel charity Sustrans and transport consultants Arup, estimates 84% of disabled people living in urban areas never cycle for local journeys – yet 33% say they would like to do so.

This ‘significant interest’ in everyday cycling is mirrored among women (32%) and people over 65-years-old (15%).

However, the report finds these demographics face systematic barriers when it comes to riding a bike, including:

  • An association that cycling isn’t an activity for people like ‘them’
  • Heightened safety concerns when sharing road space with motor vehicles
  • Lack of ‘seamless and dedicated’ cycle infrastructure to connect people to everyday destinations
  • Access to, and the high cost of, adapted cycles – including electric cycles

This is despite the UK having a legal obligation through the Equality Act 2010 to protect everyone from discrimination in wider society.

The report recommends that local authorities should ensure the voices of underrepresented groups are integrated in policy and planning, and create a dense network of cycling routes within and around where people live.

‘Inclusive, safer and attractive’
Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans, said: “Inclusive transport is at the heart of a fairer society, and cycling can play a vital role in enhancing social inclusion.

“Our urban areas are predominantly designed around the car and only those brave enough to share road space with motor traffic currently consider cycling as a mode of transportation.

“This report acknowledges that the UK can achieve big social changes.

“While it’s clear central governments need to show leadership and prioritise investment in cycling, we urge cities and towns to work with us to make cycling inclusive, safer and attractive for more people, regardless of gender, age and abilities.”

Sustrans and Arup will use the initial findings from the report as a basis for further work to engage with organisations representing women, older people and disabled people to inform the transport sector to make urban cycling fully inclusive.



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