Cycling in Plymouth: the Business Case


Plymouth as the twelfth largest City in England has an imaginative and impressive Strategy for Growth. Modern, successful Cities need to offer their residents and visitors a high Quality of Life. Investment in a network of safe and convenient cycle routes increasingly appeals to the public and a recent article in the Times highlighted how such provision increases the attractiveness of residential areas that have access to such facilities.

A network of quality cycle routes across the City and, in particular linking the City with Sherford, the Saltram Estate and the Plym Valley would be of great benefit to residents travelling across the City for work or leisure facilities; or out to the Saltram Estate or the Plym Valley for recreation.

Plymouth’s aspirations to position itself as a major tourist destination – Britain’s Ocean City – will be enhanced by offering quality cycling provision. Leisure cycling will make a major contribution to the local economy.

Equally such provision can be exploited by a range of businesses to increase patronage and provide the opportunity for new retail or hospitality offerings.

This is our assessment for the Business Case:

  • Traffic congestion has a considerable impact on quality of life and economic development. Estimated current cost of congestion for the South West Region £1.9bn across the South West Region.
  • Nationally, if we continue to use cars as we do now, DoT forecast increased cost of £10billion p.a. in the future for businesses if we do not change our travel habits and £22billion to taxpayer. 
  • Please consider traffic numbers. A single lane of highway (e.g. A379) at peak times can take 2,000 people per hour in cars, or 14,000 people on bikes. Car speeds currently average 11mph at peak times, much the same as cycling.
  • Journey times are more reliable by bicycle with no delays due to vehicle accidents, faulty traffic lights, etc
  • Every person who regularly walks or cycles saves NHS up to £300 p.a. each.
  • The Institute of Advanced Motorists have publically stated since 2013 that segregated cycle routes are required in inner cities to reduce congestion and for safety.
  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has publically said the same.  They give special emphasis that cycling needs priority to reduce traffic congestion.
  • For Employers, cost benefits include less absenteeism due to better health, cheaper to provide bike spaces in lieu of car parking, greater reliability for staff getting to work.

The City has recognised the importance of modern urban street planning with its announcement on 23th November 2015 of a new masterplan using Berlin as a blue print.  We believe that Plymouth should also take inspiration from Malmo in Sweden, a city comparable in location and size for its blue print for transport planning.  This city with its No Ridiculous Car Trips behavioural campaign and sensible highway design is setting a worldwide benchmark where in 8 years it has increased cycle journeys from 2% to 25% of all journeys and equally significant reductions in car usage.

We at Plymouth Cycling Campaign believe that Plymouth has a bright future where future transport is planned boldly with sustainability at its heart.

Sources of Information 

Essential evidence locally (Dr Adrian Davis):

DoT Cycling Networks Fit for Growth (Robert Goodwill, Minister for Transport):

Traffic capacity comparing cars and cyclists (Ian Barrett, SW director for Sustrans):

Institute of Advanced Motorists; Policy on Cycling (May 2013)

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; How to Build Sustainable Transit Systems for Tomorrow’s Cities (November 2013)

British Medical Association; Healthy Transport = Healthy Lives (July 2012)

NICE National Institute for Health and Care Excellence:

Transport for London; Royal College Green, Barclays Superhighway

Plymouth’s Cycling Strategy; Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Better

Cycling in Plymouth;

The northern European comparison: