UK politics and the road ahead for cycling

July 3, 2024

cyclists near palace of Westminster

The last few weeks of political campaigning have seen many public pledges of support for drivers, but far fewer for those who walk, wheel, cycle or use public transport. Why so little talk from policymakers about the interplay between active travel, public health and climate change?

Historically, pro-cycling measures in the UK have been met with a mixed reception at both local and national levels, reflecting a political landscape where enthusiasm for active travel collides with the realities of car culture, diverse voter priorities and a press that tends to reflect a deeply entrenched car dependency.


As the conversation around active travel, health, and climate change intensifies, the successes and setbacks of various councils provide a lens through which to understand the public opinion on these issues.

Local vs national

At the national level, support for pro-cycling measures appears to be growing. Polls suggest that a majority of the public is in favour of increasing investment in cycling infrastructure. For instance, a survey by YouGov revealed 64 per cent of people support more cycling lanes.

However, this support is far from universal and is often more pronounced in urban areas where the benefits of cycling infrastructure are more immediately apparent. In cities like London and Manchester, the introduction of robust cycling infrastructure has seen in a surge in cycling numbers.

Conversely, in more rural and suburban areas, pro-cycling measures sometimes face resistance. Residents in these regions often rely on cars for longer journeys and may view cycling infrastructure as less relevant to their daily lives.

Health, climate and active travel

There is a growing awareness of the interplay between active travel, public health and climate change. Cycling not only helps reduce carbon emissions but promotes physical activity, which is crucial for tackling public health issues such as cardiovascular disease.


Despite a growing recognition of these links, translating them into concrete, widely supported policies remains a challenge. The willingness to embrace changes that support active travel often hinges on how measures are communicated at the local level.

The electoral fortunes of councils that have championed pro-cycling measures offer a mixed picture. However, some councils have managed to secure re-election despite, or perhaps because of, their pro-cycling stance. For instance, Labour-controlled Waltham Forest council in London, known for its ambitious 'Mini-Holland' scheme, has continued to enjoy electoral support.

The key seems to be ensuring that benefits are clearly articulated and widely felt.

Whatever the outcome of this week's election, we need to learn from the successes and challenges of other countries. Only then can we chart a course towards a more sustainable, healthier, and liveable future for us all.

e-bike competition

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK's most ethical provider.


Cycle Insurance Quick Quote
Start now
European Breakdown Cover
Start now
Mobility Scooter Quick Quote
Start now

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Your name and email are required.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.