Most could not get to work in fuel shortage

Just 44 per cent of workers are able to commute by either walking or cycling.''Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Just 44 per cent of workers are able to commute by either walking or cycling.''Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
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MOST PEOPLE in England could not get to work without motorised forms of transport, new research from the University of Leeds has found.

Just 44 per cent of workers would be able to commute by walking or cycling in the event of a fuel shortage, a study by Dr Ian Philips of the Institute of Transport Studies found.

The figure varies significantly depending on location, with some areas of Leeds more able to rely on pedal power than others. Across the city, age has a big effect on capacity to walk and cycle, with fitness going down as we get older and commuter distance going up as we age. People in the north and west of the city are more likely to own a bike, Dr Philips found.

The study, which analysed statistics from the Census and other sources, found that in the Pennine districts between Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester, both the hilliness and commuting distance were linked to low capacity to get to work by walking and cycling.

Dr Philips said his research could be used by campaigners fighting for funding for sustainable transport measures, in particular cycling.

He said: “This is a piece of a bigger jigsaw to make a better, sustainable transport system. Here we have the evidence to target small areas in order to help people, rather than looking at mega schemes.”

Last year national cycling charity CTC found that Leeds was lagging behind other core cities in their appetite to become cycling cities.

Campaigns coordinator Sam Jones said the research highlighted the need for provision that is “simply is not there at the moment.”

The CityConnect scheme has received £38m in Government funding for a variety of cycling improvements, including the 23km cycle superhighway between Bradford and East Leeds. Communications manager Ginny Leonard said it is also looking at improving accessibility within neighbourhoods, so that all residents are within a 20-minute walk or cycle of services.