Infrastructure is not enough: Interactions between the environment, socioeconomic disadvantage, and cycling participation in England


  • Eugeni Vidal Tortosa University of Leeds
  • Robin Lovelace University of Leeds
  • Eva Heinen University of Leeds
  • Richard P. Mann University of Leeds and The Alan Turing Institute



active travel, cycling, equity, health inqualities, England, Environmental justice, bicycling, utility cycling, leisure cycling, transport equity, physical activity


Cycling can be particularly beneficial for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. First, because it can allow them to access opportunities that by other modes they may not afford. Secondly, because it can increase their physical activity levels and, consequently, improve their health. We analyse the extent to which socioeconomic disadvantage impacts on cycling participation in England, for both leisure and utility cycling. Then, we explore the extent to which this impact could be explained by the environment in which disadvantaged populations live.  The study population includes 167,178 individuals, residing in 2,931 areas, and 326 Local Authorities. Data on individual factors were drawn from the Active Lives Survey, and data on environmental factors from several sources. Descriptive statistics and multilevel logistic models were estimated. The likelihood of cycling is lower among people living in deprived areas than among people living in non-deprived areas. This difference is significant for leisure, but also for utility cycling when controlling for individual and environmental factors. The study also found that cycling infrastructure and greater levels of cyclability are higher in deprived areas than in non-deprived areas. This suggests that infrastructure and cyclability are not enough to increase cycling levels among disadvantaged populations. Further research on other barriers to cycling among disadvantaged populations is required.


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How to Cite

Vidal Tortosa, E., Lovelace, R., Heinen , E., & Mann, R. P. (2021). Infrastructure is not enough: Interactions between the environment, socioeconomic disadvantage, and cycling participation in England. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 14(1), 693–714.