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  • Gary Roethenbaugh

Role for cycling: cost of living crisis sees 69% of Brits reconsider transport habits

The cost of living crisis is taking its toll on a number of countries worldwide, and Britain has been particularly impacted alongside a recent devaluation of Sterling against the US Dollar.

New research undertaken by MultiSport Research, commissioned by industry group BikeIsBest, has found that the bike now has a key role as the adverse effects of the crisis play out.

The research involved a nationally representative survey of 2,000 people and found that:

  • Over two-thirds (69%) of the population have changed or are considering a change in their transport behaviour as a result of the cost of living crisis.

  • 86% cite saving money as a reason for change. Environmental and wellbeing considerations were also raised as factors.

  • 84% of Brits are planning to drive a lot less; and 87% of Brits see the bicycle as a way to help with cost of living issues.

  • The appeal of e-bikes is also evident, with half the population saying an e-bike is the ‘most natural car replacement’.

The latest BikeIsBest research into the role of cycling and the cost of living was conducted via the Attest consumer research platform, which was chosen for its ability to provide a nationally representative sample of the British population. BikeIsBest worked with two independent research firms – MultiSport Research and TWResearch. All survey questions were reviewed for their phrasing, to ensure that bias was reduced throughout.

  • Despite cars still being in high use (three-quarters of respondents are currently using a motor vehicle), BikeIsBest notes that UK car ownership has fallen for two consecutive years – the first successive drops in ownership in more than a century.

  • Although the bicycle may be seen as a solution to the cost of living, it is used by just less than one-quarter (23%), with e-bikes used by a further 5%. Overall, bike ownership (used and dormant bikes combined) is at 57% (increasing to 72% for those aged 16-20).

  • One roadblock to many Brits cycling is the roads themselves. Road safety is the number one reason for Brits not cycling, with 38% of non-cyclists concerned about road conditions.

  • Unsurprisingly in a cost of living crisis, affordability is cited as a barrier for non-cyclists – with 29% of those not riding unable to afford a bike.

Adam Tranter, founder of Bike is Best, said “I want to acknowledge that both the pandemic and now the chronic squeeze on personal finances are horrible situations; but my hope is that something good, call it a silver lining, can be the sustained growth of cycling for everyday transport. And the cycling industry as a whole needs to act now.”

He continued, “The general public’s knowledge, awareness and desire for e-bikes is there. This is borne out by 50% of UK adults declaring that an e-bike is the most natural car replacement. Another really encouraging figure is that 87% of people feel that using a bicycle can help with the cost of living.

“Despite this, the potential demand is being stifled as 41% of people think e-bikes are too expensive. There is a clear affordability issue and it’s not hard to see why, when people have got used to driving £40k cars for a relatively small down payment and £300 a month.

“Government policy can be a great way of lowering costs barriers to entry, just like the €4k subsidy scheme in France. Let’s hope the British government follows suit. The opportunity now for the cycling industry is to repackage bicycle ownership to help remove cost perception barriers.”

A release from BikeIsBest added that… ‘The cost of living crisis continues to have a direct impact on the daily lives of the British people, and is unsurprisingly the motivation for changing transport behaviour. If the current squeeze on people’s finances is to trigger a cycling revolution, the bike must be positioned as a money saving solution that also taps into environmental and wellbeing virtues.

‘More work is required in supporting the gateway into cycling, be this financial aid, education and highlighting cycling as a viable and sustainable mode of transport that can play a huge role in the cost of living crisis as consumers adapt their habits.

‘The cycling industry must work together as a whole to ensure that change is made and perceptions are changed at a time when it matters the most.’



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