These are some of the results of a study commissioned by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management and the knowledge centre Fietsberaad into perceptions on driving and cycling in medium-sized cities (50.000 to 200.000 inhabitants). The results may lead to the development of purposeful campaigns to promote cycling.
The study shows that perceptions on cycling strongly determine the means of transport to the town centre. This perception is more important than education level, age and possession of a car. A majority of inhabitants of medium-sized cities prefer in principle cycling to the town centre. Sometimes a choice is made in favour of the car, particularly because of the amount of luggage or the weather.
A quarter of inhabitants of medium-sized cities strongly prefer the car, even for trips to the town centre. Cycling has a distinctly lower image among this group. They feel terms like ‘speed’, ‘sense of freedom’, ‘relaxed’ and ‘relaxing’ are more appropriate to driving a car. Yet part of these die-hard motorists still cycle to the town centre on occasion. In particular because it is healthy, nice to be outdoors or in order to save on parking fees.
For retail businesses cyclists are an interesting customer segment. They visit the town centre more often than motorists. Of cyclists, 75 per cent travel into town at least once a week, compared to 42 per cent of people who prefer the car. The high frequency of cyclists’ visits is explained in part by the fact than on average they live closer to the town centre. The most loyal customers live closest to the shop. But cyclists living at a greater distance also visit the town centre more often than car-lovers in their neighbourhood. Apparently the threshold for visiting the town centre is lower for people used to cycling. The bike is ready to be used and route and parking facilities are well-known.
The aim of the study of Fietsberaad and Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management is to provide a better match between bicycle policies of medium-sized cities and the needs and wants of their inhabitants.