Cyclists in Scotland say environmental benefits are an increasing reason for riding

Women were far more likely to mention the environment than men. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Women were far more likely to mention the environment than men. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Environmental concerns are a motivation for nearly twice as many cyclists as two years ago, a Cycling Scotland survey has revealed.

A total of 22 per cent of riders taking part in the poll by official development body Cycling Scotland cited the factor, compared to 12 per cent in 2017.

Women were three times as likely to mention environmental reasons than men.

The health benefits of cycling were referred to by 74 per cent of participants, up three points on the previous survey.

The results came as the British Heart Foundation (BHF) warned that more than 160,000 could die in the UK over the next decade from strokes and heart attacks from air pollution.

That is equivalent to more than 40 heart and circulatory disease deaths related to air pollution every day.

The cycling poll found 79 per cent of those questioned thought Scotland would be a better place environmentally if more people cycled.

However, it also revealed the majority of car drivers had no plans to ditch their vehicles.

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While 44 per cent said they were interested in reducing their car use, the majority still had little interest in the idea, with 32 per cent firmly opposed.

A total of 72 per cent of drivers would rather use their cars than other transport, citing its freedom as the prime reason.

Concerns over cycling safety and a lack of convenience meant most people were unlikely to try cycling anytime soon.

But the proportion of people who said they were very unlikely to cycle has reduced from three quarters to two-thirds since 2017.

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Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, said the increased environmental concern mirrored its experience.

Spokesman Dave du Feu said: "Last year, we ran a competition for people to tell us (unprompted) what had inspired them to use a bike, or go by bike more, for their everyday journeys.

"Climate and environment came as high as health and fitness.

"This is a big change from similar competitions in the past, even in 2018, where climate was rarely if ever mentioned as a motivating factor for getting about by bike."

Cycling Scotland chief executive Keith Irving said: “It’s encouraging to see the environmental agenda influencing transport choices and people saying how cycling could help to shape a greener, cleaner Scotland. But, that said, there is a lot of work still to be done.

“As we enter a new decade, dedicated, inclusive cycling infrastructure – that reflects the various everyday journeys that people make – continues to be the biggest priority.”