Sustrans, in partnership with 18 urban areas across the UK and Ireland, is set to launch the Walking and Cycling Index.
This is the new name for Bike Life, its assessment of cycling in urban areas that has been running for eight years, and for the first time will include data on walking and wheeling.
The Index will include behaviours, attitudes, data on infrastructure and walkability as well as the benefits of walking and wheeling for residents and their city or region.
There are also more urban areas taking part this year than ever before, with 18 local reports from across the UK and Ireland being released on the same day.
Sustrans said: “Our partners requested the programme to include walking and wheeling alongside cycling as planning, investment, and delivery closely relate for these modes of travel. To do this, we needed to find a way to incorporate walking and wheeling data into Bike Life alongside the data we already collect on cycling.”
The Walking and Cycling Index will provide fresh insight into how people’s travel behaviours changed since the pandemic started.
The data will include comparisons for most cities with data from 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The household survey in 2021 was conducted in the summer when most restrictions affecting travel in all UK nations were lifted.
However, it should be acknowledged many people were still working from home.
Sustrans’ recent report, Walking for Everyone, showed that being able to walk or wheel is important to almost everyone.
“And yet, governments and policy-makers too often overlook walking and cycling as modes of transport.Our walking environment is not inclusive, and many people find walking or wheeling challenging or impossible. Road safety, personal safety, access, and the distance of services and amenities are some of the key factors to blame,” said the organisation.
“We believe everyone should feel safe, welcome, and comfortable walking, wheeling or spending time on our streets or in public spaces. Lack of data is one of the key factors contributing to a lack of action or prioritisation of walking and wheeling. This is where we hope the Walking and Cycling Index can play a role.”
Sustrans said there are far too many trips in UK urban areas that are driven when they could easily be walked, wheeled, or cycled.
“And there is an enormous potential to change this if we make walking, wheeling and cycling accessible and desirable. It can also help reduce air pollution, address the cost of living crisis, and support our climate emergency whilst allowing people to access the things they need to live well.
“We know that Bike Life has provided the public mandate and wider evidence base to allow local decision-makers to deliver better and more ambitious cycling schemes. We hope there is even more potential for the Walking and Cycling Index to do so across walking, wheeling, and cycling.”
The report will be launched on May 18th.