“But not everyone can ride a bike…”

When confronted with the prospect of investing in cycling, one of the common retorts is that not everyone can ride a bike.

It’s very easy to say, but much more difficult to back up with facts. The first mistake is assuming that everyone can drive, just because you can.

Licenses

Before you even apply for your provisional license you need to get through the first 17 years of your life. According to the 2011 Census, of Cardiff’s 346,090 residents, 6.5% were between the ages of 0-4; 5.2% were between 5-9; 5.4% between 10-14; and 7.5% between 15-19. So, 24.6% of Cardiff was aged 19 or under in Cardiff in 2011. So, very nearly a quarter. How many drivers are in that 15-19 age group is unclear. With that said, considering the cost of insurance for new drivers, it probably isn’t many.

At the other end of the scale there are 4.6% between the ages of 75-84; 1.4% at 85-89; and 0.6% above the age of 90. These are also likely to be at an age where they have decided to stop driving. So, 31.2% of Cardiff outside the ages where a driving license (or indeed a polling card) is available to them. For argument’s sake that’s around 107,980 people.

To put that into perspective, the capacity of the Millennium Stadium (I refuse to use its new name) is 74,500. The people of Cardiff who are either too old or too young for a driving license wouldn’t fit into our biggest stadium.

This of course ignores those people who are within the typical age bracket of the driving population, but either chose not to learn or learned and then lost their license somehow.

Access

How this translates to the car availability statistics is interesting. Of the 142,557 households in Cardiff, 29% have no access to a car or van. That’s 41,341.53 households where nobody has a car or van. For reference, there are 8,261 households in the whole of Grangetown; 6,192 in the whole of Cathays.

For a city that has a bit of a reputation for being in love with the car, there’s a staggering number of people without access to one. So yes, there will be people who can’t ride a bike, in particular those whose eyesight or physical impairment would make it especially difficult.

Yet we can’t and shouldn’t ignore the people who can’t drive a car, because there is literally a hundred thousand of them.

One thought on ““But not everyone can ride a bike…”

  1. Great points well made Gavin. These attitudes that everyone drives also appear in many other ways, such as the “need” to avoid taxing the sick by providing free parking at our NHSWales hospital sites. The sick hospital inpatient isn’t driving and visiting these unfortunate folks should be seen as an opportunity to progress the active transport agenda, not more polluting car journeys of those privileged to be able to use one.

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