FEWER cyclists than ever are taking to the roads despite plans for a multi-million pound investment to imporve cycle lanes in the borough.
A survey by Sport England found that just 10 per cent of adults in the borough cycled at least once a month in 2011/12 – a drop of two per cent on the previous year.
Earlier this month the Post revealed that Wigan is set to benefit from an £8.2m safety project as part of a government bid to get more people on two wheels.
The cash will be used to improve safety at junctions on key routes in the borough, to be known as the Wigan West Cycling Corridor.
Council chiefs say the corridor will provide an alternative, direct and well-connected cycling route for one of the borough’s most deprived residential areas, Worsley Hall, where there is a low level of car ownership and which suffers from a lack of opportunities for employment, education and training.
Emma Barton, transport strategy manager for Wigan Council, said: “The information the Department of Transport has compiled here comes with a very clear warning to treat the figures with caution. As stated in the report, the figures refer to two years of data only and therefore it is impossible to try to predict a long-term pattern.
“Additionally, one of the weaknesses of the data, which the Department of Transport recognises in its report, is that the standard sample size is only about 500 people for each local authority area. As the number of people who do cycle is low, the cycling figures will be based on results from a very small group of people.
“The figures themselves present a mixed picture. It’s worth noting the number of people cycling five times a week has increased by 200 per cent.
“This is consistent with our own data, which suggests more people are cycling to work. This trend began in 2008 at the start of the recession.
“People are choosing to commute by bike because it is cheaper than driving. The figures also suggest the number of people cycling once a week has increased.
“I would also add the figures for 2012 may have been affected by the severe weather. Last year was the second wettest on record and that will undoubtedly have affected cycling numbers.
“However, we want to see a lot more people cycling. It is an excellent form of exercise, cuts congestion and is good for the environment. That’s why I’m delighted we have recently secured a grant of £685,000 from the Department of Transport for a safer cycle route between Worsley Hall and Wigan town centre.”