I came across this graph and fellow blogger Tejvan Pettinger kindly agreed to me using it. It shows the wide variation of people who cycle in various towns and cities in England. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised to see Luton not fairing very well – perhaps this is another illustration of its “crap town” status which has already been well publicised. Nevertheless it’s quite striking how there are both similarities and differences across these English towns.
The figures are from October 2012 and could be argued as being a little out of date. As I am always optimistic, there are a few things which might lift the local figures in and around Luton, Dunstable and Central Bedfordshire. These factors could include:
- The Luton & Dunstable Busway cycle track has only been open for a few months and I suspect the number of cyclists using it will continue to grow, especially in the Spring. I’ve blogged about this a few times.
- The presence of decent local bike shops (LBS). In Dunstable we have Dysons and Pedalworks – they are both pretty good but for slightly different reasons. Both sell decent bicycles.
- Travel Choices is a local initiative which promotes sustainable transport. They do an excellent job in supporting people to try cycling and have a number of initiatives and activities which are brilliant.
- The Luton & Dunstable Cycle Forum raise awareness and also through their Facebook page organise group cycle rides and are an increasingly a well known voice for local cyclists (I’m not a member but they sound great and I’ll find out more sometime)
These poor rates of cycling in Luton may also be indicative of other social or economic indicators. Luton is a deprived town with a number of social problems with disproportionately higher levels of unemployment, poor housing, anti social behaviour and crime. Fascinating data can be sourced from the Office for National Statistics. Correspondingly, isn’t it interesting that the opposite is true in other places such as Cambridge or nearby Harpenden or St Albans – far more cyclists and improved life expectancy, lower levels of crime etc.
I am wondering if this is, on one level, a paradox. You could understand that poorer towns would be more likely to use cycling as a cheap means of transport – and yet the opposite is true in many cases. This is curious. Does this mean cycling is becoming more aligned to middle classes and “middle England”? Interesting thought……