TWICE as many higher earners across the West Midlands are cycling at least once a week (12 per cent) compared to groups on lower incomes, new statistics reveal.
And almost four out of ten (39 per cent) of lower-income groups do not have access to a car.
The figures come from national charity Sustrans, and Bike Life is billed as the UKs biggest assessment of cycling in 17 cities and urban areas across the UK and Ireland.
The report, which is the first to cover the West Midlands, surveyed 1,554 people to find out about their cycling habits, satisfaction and the impact of cycling in the city.
Although one in three (31 per cent) residents in this group would like to start cycling, there is evidence that safety fears and a lack of confidence are holding them back.
In this group, 43 per cent of residents said they were concerned about safety and a quarter (24 per cent) lacked confidence.
Transport bosses in the region have committed almost £15 million towards four major cycle routes in Coventry, Birmingham and the Black Country as part of the region’s vision to get more people on their bike.
They include the £5million Binley Road route between Coventry University to University Hospital and another £5million cycle lane on the A45 Birmingham to the Airport/NEC running alongside the new Sprint rapid bus route.
But concerns have been raised about the level of transport poverty in the area which could be preventing people from accessing everyday services, employment and training.
Matt Easter, England Director Midlands and East at Sustrans said: “It’s clear that cycling could help to reduce inequality in the West Midlands by tackling transport poverty. However, only if everyone feels safe and confident when they ride a bike. That means we need more off-road and on road physically protected cycle routes which can only be achieved through increased investment.
“There is strong public support for this, 79% of residents want more traffic-free walking and cycling paths away from roads, demonstrating strong public support. Local, regional and national government must work together to deliver this investment and make the West Midlands a fairer, healthier and happier place to live.”
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street said: “This Bike Life report shows the scale of the challenge ahead if we are to get more people from a diverse range of backgrounds cycling and walking in the West Midlands as part of our plans to reduce traffic congestion and improve the health of the region. It is clear that fears from cycling on our busy streets are a major barrier to cycling and we need to do more to improve safety.”
He added: “I am therefore encouraged that almost 80 per cent support investment in safe cycle lanes and routes. We have a long way to go to truly transform cycling in the region, but good progress is being made. Only last year Transport for West Midlands announced £23 million additional investment in cycling and walking and now we are getting to work delivering cycle routes and facilities across the Black Country, Birmingham and Coventry.”
Inspired by the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, Bike Life is an assessment of city cycling development, including infrastructure, travel behaviour, satisfaction, the impact of cycling, and new initiatives.