Almost half of Brits feel ‘held hostage’ by cars believing there is no alternative

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A new report by cycle industry campaign group Bike Is Best reveals that many Brits feel locked into car ownership, with 47% believing they have no alternative to owning a car. 

The study, which evaluated nationally representative survey data from 2,000 people last November, found that 71% expect to always be car owners despite the rising costs of owning a car and the cost-of-living crisis. 

UK motorists spend on average 13% of their total annual gross income on cars, which is above the 10% generally seen as the indicator of transport poverty. Those who have a car on finance or as part of a loan deal spend on average 19% of their income just to keep it on the road.

Though the majority (88%) of Brits believe that buying a bike would have a strong health and happiness impact, almost half (48%) say they cannot afford a bike even though it is a preferred alternative to the car or public transport.

“Our research suggests that part of the reason that many people say owning a bike is a financial stretch is that they feel they already have to spend money on owning a car, so a bike is an extra cost they can’t afford,” Scott Purchas, Campaign Consultant for Bike Is Best, told Zag Daily. 

“Decades of transport investment that has put driving first has effectively removed the option for many people to cycle (or not own a car) as roads have become designed for and dominated by motor vehicles. 

“With greater investment in high-quality cycle networks, more people would feel they may have the option not to own a car, freeing up money for other spending including bikes.” 

The most recent National Travel Attitudes Survey by the Department for Transport highlighted that road conditions and cost are big barriers to cycling. 

Bike is Best has previously called for subsidies to help the public switch to electric bikes. 

Purchas said: “For many people, car ownership is the very opposite of freedom, it’s a cost that they are held hostage by – but it shouldn’t have to be that way. Providing people with transport choice in the form of cycling, will help make lives better and reduce pressure on family budgets.”

Using ad-spend to offer free rides

The shared e-bike operator HumanForest has focused on their affordability and accessibility by offering free riding to its users. 

‘We have a number of cost-reducing features in place, such as every customer receiving 10 free minutes of riding every day and our RewardStream where customers receive additional free minutes of riding after watching an advertisement from our sustainable partners,” Michael Stewart, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at HumanForest, told Zag Daily.

“By working hard to remove cost barriers, we want to prove that affordable, sustainable transport does not need to come at a price.”

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