In a way Bradford is my home town. I went to school at Bradford Grammar and used to visit Bradford for shopping, and even worked in a stockbrokers office for a couple of weeks for work experience (yes, there really was a stockbrokers in Bradford). For a long time I haven’t visited Bradford, I remember the town centre got sadly run down as many good shops closed down; in it’s place were depression beating Pound shops, gambling shops and the like – a sad decline for a city which was once at the heart of the industrial revolution (and had some great Trolley buses). Anyway, I was intrigued to revisit Bradford because of a recent report which says Bradford has the lowest rate of cycling anywhere in the country.
Why are cycling rates so Low in Bradford?
Evidence of two parked bikes in the city centre, but, this was a pretty rare site.
I spent an hour and half in Bradford, during which time I saw three cyclists (and two of them were riding illegally on the pavement.)
This is the only road where I saw people cycling (perhaps from Bradford interchange bus and train station)
- You can see there is no cycling infrastructure. (apart from the odd sign which says bikes can share the road with buses and taxis – joy!)
Centre of town in Bradford
- There isn’t much traffic. I visited between 9.30am and 11am, I guess the peak time for cycling is 8-9am during the rush hour. At this time of the day, there really isn’t much congestion in Bradford. Cycle in London or Oxford, and cycling really is much quicker, but given lack of traffic, I wonder how much time you would save (though of course, I would have to revisit at peak time and see other areas of town)
- Safety in Numbers. There is a strong argument that when people see others cycling, it encourages them to cycle. Also, car drivers become more likely to be aware of the presence of cyclists. In Bradford, cyclists are such a rarity, I wonder whether drivers get in the habit of looking in their mirrors for cyclists.
- Culture of Cycling. Modes of transport are a habit. If you have never cycled, it’s hard to take that first step and try commuting by bike.
Could Bradford Double the Number of People Cycling?
To double the number cycling, would require very few to take up cycling. But, I would love Bradford to try get more people cycling. The road structure is not so bad. The roads I saw are not really much more intimidating than Oxford or York. There is no intrinsic reason why more people couldn’t try cycling.
Cycle paths would help because there is a need to increase the visibility of cycling. Sometimes cycle paths can be of dubious value, but, they do provide a reminder that cycling is a mode of transport.
Visiting schools / Offices.
To break the mould of non-cycling, I think you need more than a few painted cycle lanes, it requires an enthusiastic cycling body to meet people and suggest cycling as a mode of transport – something along the lines of cycle to work challenge. I wonder if Bradford schools would be receptive to the idea of encouraging cycling to school?
Support Bradford Cyclists Action Campaign.
It’s great to see there is a Bradford Cycling action campaign. But, it was sad to see on home page they couldn’t get enough members to create a committee! Hardly inspires confidence, Also they report:
Tescos have removed the rubbishy bike stand from their Valley Road store, thus indicating that even that token gesture was a step to far to save the planet from global warming. Heck, they are hopeless. My suggestion is that people should only shop where there is a decent bike provision and Tesco generally isn’t that place
Well, Bradford and cycling can only get better!