New data shows ethnic community taking up cycling more than ever

Wednesday 20th October 2021 08:11 EDT

Transport for London (TfL) has published new data showing that long-term trends in who cycles have changed, with participation much more representative of Londoners in 2020/21 than previous years.

Londoners from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities were not significantly less likely to have cycled over the past 12 months than white Londoners. 27 per cent as a whole had cycled over the past 12 months, compared to 24 per cent of Black people, 25 per cent of Asian people and 31 per cent of people from mixed backgrounds. This data comes from independent research for TfL based on a representative sample of 3,500 Londoners.

Life during the coronavirus pandemic boosted cycling levels overall, from 21 per cent of Londoners in 2019/20 to 27 per cent in 2020/21 but also widened participation, particularly among people from minority ethnic communities.

The research also found that half of Black and Asian non-cyclists (49 per cent and 46 per cent respectively) are open to starting to cycle, though significant barriers to encouraging more people to cycle remain. Across all backgrounds, there were major concerns around safety on the road and cycle theft, with 82 per cent of non-cyclists worried about road safety and collisions. Personal safety was a bigger concern for women, Asian and mixed ethnicity Londoners, with 73 per cent of women citing it as a concern.

The research found that that protected cycle routes on busy streets, less traffic on minor streets, and more secure cycle parking could help address barriers to cycling faced by people from diverse backgrounds.

The research also found particular concerns from disabled Londoners who want to cycle more, including lack of fitness and a lack of relevant role models. 42 per cent of disabled non-cyclists said they didn’t see anybody like them cycling, while 75 per cent had concerns that they weren’t fit enough.

UK’s first City Academy hubs for youngsters

TfL and British Cycling recently brought together key cycling, diversity and equalities stakeholders for a summit to identify what actions need to be taken to diversify cycling. The results of these discussions are being used to shape a new joint approach to including more people in cycling London that can be delivered by a wide range of organisations, funders, campaigners, authorities and community groups.

At the UK level 17 per cent of cyclists come from diverse ethnic communities yet are represented in just 5 per cent of British Cycling’s membership. To help widen this demographic, British Cycling is using TfL’s data to identify areas in London with the most potential for enabling and encouraging diversity in cycling.

Based on this data, Hackney and Newham were identified as boroughs with significant potential and have since been selected as home to the UK’s first City Academy hubs, a new initiative delivered by British Cycling and supported by the Rapha Foundation to improve diversity in cycling for young people.

Launching this autumn, City Academy hubs across the capital, will each have a coach from the local community, who will lead fun, skills-based sessions, and act as role models for other riders.

These activity sessions which will be aimed at young people aged 10-14 years will take place in local open spaces, such as parks and commons, to increase the visibility of cycling. The programme also seeks to support progression into professional cycling, with an ambition to improve diversity in competitive cycling events through City Academy clubs and talent centres.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s really encouraging to see that many more Black, Asian and minority ethnic Londoners are now cycling, and that 20 percent of non-cyclists also looking to take it up. But we are not complacent – the report shows concerns from groups including disabled Londoners that are preventing them from cycling, and we will continue to work with communities to break down these barriers and help ensure everyone feels confident to travel around the city by bike.”

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