New eco-friendly cycle lanes are seeing one biker for every 400 vehicles, spelling embarrassment for the Government’s £250million ‘green transport revolution’.
Bikes make up just 1.75 per cent of total traffic on roads which lost a carriageway to a cycle-friendly route, new research has shown.
Of the 34,726 vehicles counted on eight adapted roads in Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Gloucester, Hull, Birmingham, Liverpool and Southampton, just 608 bikes were seen.
The research suggests that cycle lanes may be doing more harm than good, by increasing congestion levels and making pollution worse.
The Department for Transport has promised to spend £2billion on cycle lanes in the next five years.
Of that, £250million has already been released to councils in England for traffic calming schemes – including pop-up cycle lanes and ‘low traffic’ neighbourhoods.
But critics say the measures have blocked emergency response vehicles and brought gridlock to towns and cities across the country.
Of the 34,726 vehicles counted on eight adapted roads in Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Gloucester, Hull, Birmingham (a cycle lane in Birmingham, pictured), Liverpool and Southampton, just 608 bikes were seen
New research conducted by The Sunday Telegraph counted how many bikes on these newly-introduced lanes in eight cities – compared to the number of motor vehicles.
The survey was conducted at the morning and evening rush hours – for a total of five hours – and there were no adverse weather conditions that may have put cyclists off.
Lockdown means the actual number could be much higher as more Britons return to offices in the coming months.
In Bradford – where an entire lane of a three-lane road was lost to a bike route – a massive 12,306 motor vehicles were counted – compared to just 31 bikes.
Traffic jams of up to 30 minutes were also reported at these peak times – with 30-car queues reported.
In Harrow in London, one cycle lane has seen just 98 cyclists per day in October. Others in the same borough say 77 and 61 cyclists every 24 hours throughout the same month.
In Bradford – where an entire lane of a three-lane road was lost to a bike route – a massive 12,306 motor vehicles were counted – compared to just 31 bikes
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The majority of people are supportive of measures to encourage cycling and walking and our active travel funding has led to the creation of new schemes across the country, delivering real benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
‘However, some changes, both in London and further afield, have not been as successful, which is why the Transport Secretary has written to local authorities, making clear that their schemes must benefit the whole community or funding will be withheld.’
The Government is planning hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes as part of its new plan, which will anger critics of the schemes which have been implemented across the UK to encourage people onto two wheels during the pandemic.
Under the Department for Transport’s ‘active travel’ scheme, councils have already been granted £42million in taxpayer money to turn over vast sections of road to pedestrians and bikes, and in some cases, to close them off altogether.
New research conducted by The Sunday Telegraph counted how many bikes on these newly-introduced lanes in eight cities (Bristol pictured) – compared to the number of motor vehicles
Rather than improving local areas, opponents say the schemes – which are part of the £2billion plan – have worsened gridlock and pollution, caused delays for 999 services and hurt firms which rely on trade from passing traffic.
The Alliance of British Drivers has already accused the Conservatives of waging war on motorists, but the Government has cited survey evidence suggesting eight out of ten people support measures to reduce traffic in their area.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this week admitted that cycle lanes brought in during the pandemic are blocking emergency vehicles and causing chaos for motorists.
Although he insisted cycle lanes have been ‘used brilliantly’ in many places, Mr Shapps criticised councils causing gridlock with badly designed schemes.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said cycle lanes brought in during the pandemic are blocking emergency vehicles and causing chaos for motorists
In an interview on LBC, Mr Shapps said: ‘You can do a lot of good things by enabling people to walk and cycle, it’s good for all of us.
‘In some places it was used brilliantly, in other places, I’m afraid, it was very poorly used. I was not impressed with some of these schemes in London.’
He added that he is ‘particularly critical’ of road schemes which have restricted access for emergency vehicles.
‘It is the case that you have to consult with emergency services before coming to these decisions,’ he said. He added that London’s mayor ‘should know this’. Critics, including 14 Tory MPs, have been pressuring Mr Shapps to abandon the active travel policy.
Although he insisted cycle lanes have been ‘used brilliantly’ in many places, Grant Shapps criticised councils causing gridlock with badly designed schemes
But earlier this month he announced a further £175million for new road schemes – quadruple the £42million given to councils since July.
He cited survey evidence suggesting eight out of ten people support measures to reduce traffic in their area, and two thirds of people back reallocating road space for walking and cycling.
In an attempt to appease critics, Mr Shapps promised tough conditions that would force councils to consult residents and local businesses before making changes. Local authorities who fail to do so face having funding withdrawn and they may even have to pay the money back, he said.
Alliance of British Drivers founder Hugh Bladon said: ‘Grant Shapps claims he is not anti-driver but these schemes are, by their very nature, anti-driver. He can’t have it both ways.’
His reaction followed the news that for every £5,000 spent on new cycle schemes causing chaos in towns and cities across the country is projected to bring just one extra cyclist on to the roads.
An academic study also concluded that if current Government spending on schemes to encourage more people to get on bikes continues for the next ten years, there would be an increase of no more than one per cent in the number of people using a bike.
The report found that for every £4,915 spent in cycle lanes in London, there is likely to be an increase of one ‘commuter cyclist’.
The cost for inner London boroughs would come to £6,153 for every extra bike user, while the amount for outlying areas would be £4,174, the report in the respected Economics And Human Biology journal said.
Ambulances with emergency blue lights are stuck in traffic next to cycle lanes in Chiswick, West London, in photos sent to the MoS by a reader
Researchers looked at census figures on cycling from 2001 and 2011 and linked them to the sums invested in cycling infrastructure during the intervening period.
The report also analysed the Government’s cycling spending plans announced in May. The Department for Transport said £2 billion will be spent on cycle lanes in the next five years. Of that, £250 million has been released to councils in England to build pop-up cycle lanes, which have been condemned for causing traffic jams.
The study states that if the current Government investment in cycling – £400 million per year – was sustained until 2030, the number of commuter cyclists would increase by between half a per cent and one per cent.
£250 million has been released to councils in England to build pop-up cycle lanes, which have been condemned for causing traffic jams
Drivers are frustrated they are having to endure long queues because half the road has been turned into cycle lanes
Britain has one of the lowest rates in Europe of commuters cycling to work – at just three per cen
Data shows that Britain has one of the lowest rates in Europe of commuters cycling to work – three per cent. The equivalent figures for Germany and Denmark are nine per cent and 25 per cent respectively.
Dr Adam Martin, an academic at Leeds University and the main author of the report, said: ‘The figure of three per cent has been steady for decades.’
Last night Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said: ‘If the Government is intent on getting us all to live healthy lives, there are other far better ways to achieve that outcome.’
A DfT spokesman said: ‘This summer we saw weekday increases of around 100 per cent in cycling. Nearly eight out of ten people support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood.’
Last week, The Mail on Sunday received photos from readers showing ambulances on blue lights stuck in traffic in areas such as Chiswick, West London, where residents have lodged a judicial review of a cycle lane installed by Hounslow Council.
Meanwhile BBC presenter Jeremy Vine triggered a backlash after posting a video of himself on a deserted cycle lane next to a gridlocked road.
BBC presenter Jeremy Vinewas blasted after posting a video of himself on a deserted cycle lane next to a gridlocked road
The Radio 2 host filmed himself cycling through Hammersmith in West London, and then on to Chiswick High Road, where residents are taking the council to court for ‘breaching human rights and equality laws’ by installing the lane.
Mr Vine, 55, tweeted: ‘A bad crash in Shepherd’s Bush to blame. Thank goodness they’ve created a safe space for cycling.’
But Twitter user Vicky wrote: ‘Look at all the cyclists. All zero of them. Chiswick has been gridlocked because of the cycle lane.’
Mr Vine said last night: ‘I know motorists get angry when they see people going more than 5mph, but cycle lanes have made commuting safer for thousands of us.’