There are many existing surveys showing that people don’t want to mix with motorised vehicles and that safe segregated cycle lanes would help encourage more cycling. These surveys, carried out by professional, independent market research companies, are representative and provide a clear indicator of the views of the people of Edinburgh (more on this below).
The "Roseburn Vision Group" have started a survey of their own, but it's very different. Due to the way the survey has been set up, the results are likely to indicate the views of just one opinion group, ignoring others. As we explain in detail below, the RV group survey is better described as a petition. It is likely that many of the respondents have already signed the previous RV petitions. While councillors should note a certain number of responses are against, the survey says nothing about the proportion of opinion in the City as a whole.
Bike life survey
One of the studies cited by Edinburgh Council when developing the East-West route is the “Bike Life” survey. This is the biggest ever survey into attitudes to cycling in the UK, covering seven cities including Edinburgh.
ICM, a leading market research company, interviewed 1,100 people in Edinburgh. Respondents were chosen at random based around quotas set by gender, age, work status, ward and ethnicity to reflect the profile of the city (see full details).
The results from Edinburgh were consistent with those from the rest of the UK and with other studies:
- 8 in 10 people support increasing the safety of cycling
- 74% want to see more spent on cycling
- Protected bike lanes are what most people want to help them start cycling — according to 91% of people who do not ride a bike but would like to.
The Roseburn Vision Group, who oppose the East-West cycle route, have expressed doubt about these studies. They have begun their own “WhyBike” survey and have asked councillors to review its results.
The results of the RV group survey should be treated with caution. This is not about arguments for or against the E-W route. The RV survey has several fundamental problems. Professional researchers take care in designing surveys and carrying them out so that the results are as informative as possible.
The survey is described as being carried out by the Roseburn Vision group, who are known to oppose the E-W route. The people most likely to respond are those who have already been contacted by the RV group and who are already opposed to the lane. The RV group has sent the survey to all those who have previously signed their petition.
Promotion of the survey
The survey has been advertised in local shops opposed to the E-W route with a poster saying “Concerned by the bike lane?”. This is likely to attract responses from those opposed to the plans.
Representativeness of responses
The survey has been promoted with campaigners going door-to-door to get responses in Murrayfield and Roseburn (an area that the RV group are keen to tell us has few people likely to start cycling). People from elsewhere in the city are likely to be under-represented. The survey is self-selecting, as anyone can complete it and it can be completed multiple times.
The introduction to the survey is written to shape responses — for example mentioning “swingeing cuts” alongside the cycle lane budget and citing articles against protected tracks. Well designed surveys will choose neutral language that will not influence responses. We know that many supporters of segregated lanes have declined to complete the survey because they disagree with the claims made in the survey introduction.