*By Jakob Schiøtt Stenbæk Madsen
With support from the national bicycle fund, The Danish Cyclists’ Federation – greatly aided by the innovation bureau IS IT A BIRD – examined what might make more people make the transition to using the bicycle as a means of transport. The report is now available in English.
The purpose of the project was to identify what motivates people to use a bicycle for their daily transportation, what causes cyclists to change their transport habits and what are individual barriers to making a change. The report, which gathers experiences from cyclists who recently changed their transport habits, provides suggestions and recommendations for what can be done to increase cycling and create a lasting change on transport habits.
Danes view themselves as cyclists
The starting point for the survey was the responses of approximately 25,000 people from the Bike to Work campaign. The respondents have been chosen across professions and geography mirroring, as far as possible, the entire population. Concurrently, workshops have been held with the relevant participants in this area where the results from the survey have been challenged and qualified.
The surveys in the project show that around 99 pct. of the Danish population view themselves as experienced cyclists – many without actually cycling daily. At the same time, they also view themselves as motorists, users of public transport and as pedestrians.
Communication from cyclist to cyclist
This means that the population as a whole neither views itself as beginners and new cyclists or as fanatical cyclists, ruling out all other forms of transport. Therefore, a campaign must be precise and concrete when it comes to the target group and take its starting point in the theoretical and real scenarios that the chosen target group is facing. It is an advantage if cyclists communicate with each other and it must be inclusive – not exclusive.
The change of habits needs support
The social aspect is a considerable motivational factor in the change of transport habits. Being part of a team has in itself great importance for becoming a more active cyclist. This is also where you can get help to overcome the problems you imagine as well as the real problems that actually arise. Continuous support from the experienced cyclists to the inexperienced ones is a central factor in the change of habits. At the same time, this support is a way to hold on to new cyclists since it means verbalising and highlighting new experiences and benefits.
Bicycle infrastructure must be good
Apart from individual barriers, other factors play a part. First and foremost, bicycle infrastructure must be adequate. Many municipalities, particularly the large cities, are making strides when it comes to building and improving the bicycle infrastructure. In the smaller towns and municipalities and in rural areas, the distances are greater and there are fewer cyclists, so here the infrastructure development must be carried out with these conditions in mind.
The Danish Cyclists’ Federation recommends that all municipalities ensure closer cooperation between all parties to work actively on transportation – including the different administration offices in the municipalities. In rural municipalities, we show some examples of alternative initiatives: 2-1 roads, focus on shorter trips in the individual city areas and the integration of all types of cyclists. These examples may be inspiring for all municipalities.
Download the full report in English. The translation is made possible by SRAM Cycling Fund and People for Bikes.