“Every council could do more. There has to be more joined-up work, with businesses encouraging their employees to travel to work in more environmentally friendly ways.”
Friends of the Earth East Dorset coordinator Angela Pooley is discussing recent figures that show that 68% of residents in Poole still travel to work by car, while only 5.3% cycle to work.
The figures, taken from the recently released 2011 census and processed by the Research department at Poole Borough Council, show that little has changed in commuters habits in 10 years.
Published in the council’s “Travel to Work” paper, the data also shows that only 7% of residents traveled to work using public transport.
As only 16% of residents travel to work via green travel, Angela believes that this should motivate Poole Council into action.
“The council should see this as a challenge.”
Although the proportion of commuters who cycle to work is above the national average of 2.8%, it has not seen the sharp rise in cyclists demonstrated in other areas.
In London, the number of cyclists more than doubled between 2001 and 2011, with sharp increases also shown in Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. Against these figures, the proportion that cycle use has grown in the borough of Poole is minimal.
The wards with the largest proportion of the population cycling to work are Hamworthy West and Hamworthy East, where the statistics show between 5.7 to 8.3% of the population cycles to work.
The lowest proportion of cyclists in the Borough of Poole was in Canford Cliffs, where less than 4.4% of residents cycled to work, and in some areas under 3.1% cycled.
Chairman of the Branksome Park, Canford Cliffs & District Residents Association John Sprackling attributed this to the ward’s demographics.
He said: “Canford Cliffs is made up of predominantly older people – it’s not an area where younger people can afford to move in.”
“As the people here aren’t so worried about counting the pennies, they are more likely to use their cars.”
I asked Poole Council’s Cycling and Walking Officer, Tom Gaze, to tell me what efforts the council is going to to encourage cycling.
He said: “There are a few different ways that we can try and encourage cycling.”
“Firstly, we are trying to improve cycling routes – we are working in conjunction with a variety of cycling groups in the area to find out what is needed.”
“We also offer ‘bike ability’ courses to children and adults alike, including training in safe cycling on the roads.”
“A lot of people who come on our training courses want to improve their confidence.”
As people are still predominantly using cars to get around, Poole borough council is attempting to get people cycling both for recreational purposes and to travel to work. But it will be a hard struggle, as people cling to their cars.