Town of Cyclists

Cycling and walking statistics in England for the year November 2019 to November 2020 published by the Department for Transport in September 2021 showed that in Bedford Borough 6.4% of people over the age of 16 cycled at least 3 times per week, 12.0% at least once per week and 16.7% at least once per month. The values were based on an Active Lifes Survey (ALS) which five years ago replaced the previous Active People's Survey (APS).

In terms of residents this indicates that more than 23,000 cycle at least once per month and 6,100 of them at least five times per week. This leaves some 106,000 people who do not cycle at the present time which gives room to try and encourage some of them to take up cycling.

The urban area of Bedford generally sees much higher levels than in the borough as a whole. This is in some measure due to the town's relatively flat and compact area with all parts including Kempston and the suburbs of Biddenham, Bromham, Clapham and Elstow being within a 15 minute cycle of the town centre. Bedford railway station, Bedford South Wing Hospital and a number of schools regularly see 10% of people travelling by bicycle.

The urban cycle network started in the 1970s and has been continually expanded since that time. Although there are still gaps in some areas and improvements to be made, the current cycle network consists of more than 140 km of routes on off-road paths and on-road quiet roads as well as cycle lanes along some of the busier roads.

The highways authority responsible for improving the network, since 2009, is Bedford Borough Council. Their Highways and Transport Team as part of the Local Transport Plan for the area has put together an Active Travel Strategy with the following vision:

"To create an environment and culture in which cycling and walking are seen as the natural choices of travelling because they are convenient, safe, comfortable, healthy and attractive."

Numerous housing developments are currently taking place in and around the town which will include the provision of additional cycle infrastructure.

As part of CCNB's 20th anniversary in 2012 a short history of CCNB was produced and may be seen here together with a short history of cycling in Bedford here.

Bicycle Dutch - Round the clock cycling in the Netherlands shows what could be achieved in the UK (and Bedford) with the right cycle infrastructure and encouragement.

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