Town of Cyclists
The lastest Active People Survey published by the Department for Transport in June 2016 for the year October 2014 to October 2015 shows that in Bedford Borough 4.6% of the population cycle at least 3 times per week, 10.7% at least once per week and 15.1% at least once per month. The small sample size of the telephone survey at only 500 for each local authority has given low values for cyclists over the five years that the survey has been conducted and as a result it is impossible to detect any significant changes in cycle use.
Nevertheless an average of the values shows that some 29,000 residents cycle at least once per month and 5,100 at least five times per week. This leaves some 128,000 who do not cycle at the present time which gives room to try and encourage some of them to take up cycling.
The Urban area of Bedford generally sees much higher levels than in the borough as a whole. This is in some measure due to the town's relatively flat and compact area with all parts including Kempston and the suburbs of Biddenham, Bromham, Clapham and Elstow being within a 15 minute cycle of the town centre. Bedford railway station, Bedford South Wing Hospital and a number of schools regularly see 10% of people travelling by bicycle.
The urban cycle network started in the 1970s and has been continually expanded since that time. Although there are still gaps in some areas and improvements to be made, the current cycle network consists of more than 140 km of routes on off-road paths and on-road quiet roads as well as cycle lanes along some of the busier roads.
The highways authority responsible for improving the network, since 2009, is Bedford Borough Council. Their Highways and Transport Team as part of the Local Transport Plan for the area has put together an Active Travel Strategy with the following vision:
"To create an environment and culture in which cycling and walking are seen as the natural choices of travelling because they are convenient, safe, comfortable, healthy and attractive."
Numerous housing developments are currently taking place in and around the town which will include the provision of additional cycle infrastructure.
As part of CCNB's 20th anniversary in 2012 a short history of cycling in Bedford was produced and may be seen here.
Dutch Cycling Embassy - Cycling for Everyone