This paper analyses attitudes to cycling and driving, using qualitative survey data from 2128 participants in a study examining impacts of active travel schemes in Outer London. London has seen some success in reducing driving and increasing active travel; but progress remains patchy.
Results show cycling attracted more support than driving, and fewer negative comments, although with differences between sub-groups. Views were more polarised in boroughs with major active travel interventions planned and under way. Car owners were more supportive of driving and less supportive of cycling than non-car owners.
The use of a ‘place’ rather than movement frame elicited more negative comments about driving, however, such critiques were often ambivalent or ambiguous. More generally, discourses critiquing driving remain weak, despite widespread awareness of negative impacts of car use. For instance, narratives of congestion highlight the potential for problems associated with car use to be re-framed in support of driving.
Comparison of comments on poor driving and poor cycling highlighted the persistence of cycling stigma. Cycling stigma combines with the weakness of anti-car narratives to reinforce controversy obstructing active travel policies. Challenging these twin barriers may prove essential to accelerating mode shift in London and elsewhere.