This essay will examine cycling as a means of transportation for short journeys in urban areas in the UK, highlighting some of its strengths and barriers. Following this will be an examination of cycle trends, policies and frameworks in Scotland followed by a case study about best practice through cycling policies and strategies as implemented in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The last part will critique previous UK cycle policies compared to that of Amsterdam highlighting cases of best practice then, my conclusion will followed.
Cycling can be a healthy, low cost and enjoyable way of carrying out short distance journeys. It is widely accepted that increase use of cars in urban areas could poses serious environmental and health problems. While car use has generally increased in the UK (Scottish Government, 2010), cycling trend has been generally in decline, with a number of fluctuations as is illustrated in figure1 below.
Figure 1: UK cycling trend.
Source: Data provided in National Travel Survey (DfT, 2012).
Cycling is increasingly being recognized as a sustainable mode of transport which is clean, and thus, an alternative to the car for short distances in urban areas (Scottish Government, 2010).
Some authorities have tried to improve the efficiency of transport systems imposing charges and taxes on emissions of air pollutants and congestion. While such measures try to reduce car use by increasing charges to external costs, cycling has other benefits: it provides another form of mobility, which could reduce the external costs without necessarily reducing mobility. Similarly, cycling can provide an opportunity for regular exercise with potential health benefits, especially if used regularly as a mode of transport. These health benefits could contribute to a drop in the cost of health care to the society as a whole. The World Health Organization (WHO) Charter on Transport, Environment and Health (London, 1999), the Joint WHO-UNECE Transport, Health and Environmental Pan-European Program (Geneva, 2002) promote cycling as a mode of transport which leads to health and environmental benefits.