Issue 32 January 2001
Communication and marketing best for cycle promotion
The Transport White Paper reaffirmed the important contribution cycling can make in an integrated transport system, and endorsed the targets and aspirations outlined in the National Cycling Strategy (NCS) published in July 1996. The first aim of the strategy is to establish a culture favourable to the increased use of bicycles for all age groups and it is probable that unless it succeeds in this the provision of improved cycle facilities will be a poor investment.
Research carried out by Austrian Traffic Club VCÖ suggests that the shaping of opinion by professional promotion is the most effective way to change travel habits. How people move about and how they cope depends mainly on how an individual means of transport, costs, time, comfort and safety are perceived and assessed. By targeting people's opinions, cycle use in particular can be increased.
In Detmold a 2-year public relations campaign brought much more cycle use than a previous 6-year programme of cycle facilities. The central task is to reduce selective awareness; the use of cars is perceived as being far more important by opinion-forming groups than it is. Communication can achieve consensus for traffic measures such as 30 km/h limits, and "sell" mobility as a complete product. Advertising and public relations are particularly important for people to consider cycling, as there are no operating companies and only little commercial interest to raise awareness. Since 1993 the Vorarlberg government has been campaigning to improve the image of cycling as an everyday means of transport.
- Kommunikation und Marketing für sichere, umweltorientierte Mobilität, VCÖ 2000. Abstracted from ECF Bicycle Research Report 119.
- From this it would appear that there is a strong case for both National and Local Government to set budgets for promoting cycling on a par with or even exceeding the budgets for improved facilities.
The latest statistics released by the DETR shows that:
Car traffic rose 1% between 1998 and 1999, one of the lowest year-on-year increases in recent years.
Two-wheeled motor vehicle traffic rose 16% between 1998 and 1999, a sharp increase following a six-year period of little change.
Pedal cycle traffic rose 6% between 1998 and 1999, compared with an average fall of 4% from 1995 to 1998.
Motorway traffic rose 3% between 1998 and 1999 - lower than the average rate of increase in recent years. Traffic on major built-up roads showed little change.
Motorways carried 18% of total traffic and 39% of goods vehicle traffic in 1999, although they account for less than 1% of road length. Half of all articulated goods vehicles traffic is on motorways.