Cycling Policy in the UK - A historical and thematic overview

University of East London
Publication date: 
October 2012

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This review aims to give a historical and thematic overview of policy relating to cycling in the UK. The focus is upon the period when the decline in cycling began more frequently to be constructed as a policy problem rather than a natural consequence of modernisation. The report illustrates that over the past forty years, while there has been relatively little change in measured overall levels of cycling, different sets of cycling expectations have emerged. We demonstrate the tensions within policy relating to cycling, the different ways in which cycling policy has been articulated (for example, with respect to arguments around health and safety), and the different initiatives and stakeholders that have emerged over this time. The focus is on ‘official’ representations of cycling. Throughout the period discussed there have always been organisations and individuals lobbying for cycling and against car dependency, but we are attempting to give an overview of how dominant policy discourses have changed over time.