Southampton Bike Life Survey

  • Bike Life, the UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in major cities and urban areas, surveyed 1,232 residents in the Southampton City Region
  • Residents want to see more investment in cycling, particularly in building more cycle lanes that are protected from both motor traffic and pedestrians

The UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in cities and urban areas has revealed that 61% of residents in the Southampton City Region already cycle or want to start. But 75% agree that cycling safety in the area needs to be improved.

The Bike Life report, the first of its kind in Southampton, also found that over 70% of residents support building more protected on-road cycle tracks, even when this would mean less room for other road traffic.

A representative sample of more than 1,200 residents in Southampton, Eastleigh Borough, and Totton (the Southampton City Region) were surveyed to find out more about their cycling habits, satisfaction, and the impact of cycling in the city.

At the start of 2019, Southampton had just three miles of cycle tracks along roads physically separated from traffic and pedestrians.

Bike Life shows that there is a clear demand for the area to become more cycle-friendly: 61% of those surveyed said that more cycling would make their area a better place to live and work. And 70% think space should be increased for people socialising, cycling and walking on their local high street.

Although the perception is often that cycling is being used by enthusiasts commuting to work or wearing lycra cycling in the countryside, the survey showed a broad range of people cycling, with a third of cycle trips for shopping, personal business and social reasons.

Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council have recently bid to the Department for Transport Transforming Cities Fund for further funding. If the bid is successful, it will accelerate the delivery of the Southampton Cycle Network (SCN).

Megan Streb, Sustrans Partnerships Manager for the Solent region, said:

“The message from the Bike Life survey is absolutely clear: Southampton residents want to cycle more, but want to feel safe doing so.

“Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council can rest assured that they have the backing of the public to build on the work they have already started to enable people to choose healthy, clean and cheap journeys by getting on a bike, reducing congestion as they do so.”

Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet Member for Place and Transport and Deputy Leader and Southampton City Council said:

We have bold ambitions for Southampton – to reduce air pollution, ease congestion that would otherwise hamper growth, and improve the health of people living, working and visiting Southampton. 

“Our Green City Charter, launched in June 2019, and the Hampshire Climate Emergency, demonstrate our commitment for Southampton to be carbon neutral by 2030 and are key for an inclusive and thriving place. Making cycling something people do daily supports all of this. The Sustrans Bike Life report gives us the confidence that residents travelling in and around the Southampton City Region want and support this.”

The health, social and economic benefits of cycling for everyday journeys are clear. Bike Life calculated that 18.2 million trips were made by bike in the Southampton City Region in the past year, equating to a £28.8 million benefit to the city based on aspects such as vehicle costs, health, travel time and congestion.

Run by Sustrans in partnership with Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council, Bike Life is part of a wider piece of research by Sustrans covering 17 cities across the UK over years. It assesses cycling development, attitudes and behaviour in each city.

Key statistics from Bike Life Southampton City Region report:

  • 61% of residents in the city region cycle or would like to cycle
  • 27% of residents don’t cycle at all but would like to
  • 75% of residents think cycling safety in Southampton City Region needs to be improved, which is why high quality segregated routes are a key part of the cycle network
  • 51% of residents agree that concerns about safety are preventing them from cycling, or from cycling more often
  • 71% of Southampton City Region residents support building more protected on-road cycle tracks, even when this would mean less room for other road traffic
  • 61% of residents would like to see more government spending on cycling 
  • 61% of residents think more cycling would make their area a better place to live and work
  • 70% think space should be increased for people socialising, cycling and walking on their local high street

Case studies:                      

Hugh Davis and Su White, Southampton city residents

Su and I live in central Southampton. We don’t have a car, and use bikes for getting to work, shopping and social occasions. We have a campervan that we keep in the Forest, and in the summer we often spend weeks in the van, staying on Forest campsites, and commuting into work at the University. 

In the past we have often stayed at Ashurst and sometimes cycled into Southampton. Although there is a section of National Cycle Network that runs along a service road into Southampton, it is not direct and the quality of the road surface was previously appalling.  

It was a stressful ride, dodging potholes and at peak times we were sharing the small road with a number of vans and lorries in a hurry. Taking the train was sometimes more attractive than cycling. 

However, things have changed this year. From the Redbridge flyover to the central station, Southampton City Council has developed the new Southampton Cycle Route Western Approach. The route is mostly a dedicated two-way, protected cycle path, with other parts on pavement shared with pedestrians, and the final bit to the station on a traffic-calmed road.  

Not only is the new road surface much-improved, we can now ride all the way from Redbridge to Central station with almost no interaction with motor vehicles. It feels so much calmer and, importantly, so much safer. In Freemantle the traffic-calmed road has a new atmosphere, with people sitting out on the pavements socialising and children playing on bikes and scooters in the street. 

The absence of close passes, left hooks and other frightening motor vehicle manoeuvres makes it possible to enjoy the ride. We can now ride side by side most of the way and talk to each other.

The improvements are not perfect. They are not yet complete. But they make an enormous difference.  It’s a game changer. If there was more infrastructure like this, we’d be sure to see more and more people choosing to cycle in Southampton.

Rob Birch, Service Engineer at Condor Office Solutions

Condor Office Solutions supplies and maintains printers and copiers for businesses. Many of Condor’s deliveries are to businesses within five miles of our Chandler’s Ford office.

After completing a travel action plan where we looked at existing business and commuting journeys, Condor applied for a My Journey Workplaces Grant to buy two e-bikes, panniers, locks, lights, and helmets, as having access to this equipment would remove barriers to us making deliveries in a more sustainable way.

When clients need toner urgently for their printer, we’ll do a delivery. As many are within a few miles of the office, an engineer will often go out on the e-bike.

Customers haven’t noticed a difference in speed and service between arriving by car or by e-bike, and that’s the point – continue providing excellent customer service, more sustainably.

Staff are also able to use the bikes during lunchtimes to grab lunch or a coffee in Chandler’s Ford, or just to get out and benefit from fresh air. Some staff have been reluctant to go out on the bike though because of the speed of traffic on the road immediately outside the business park