Commitment to Cycling

Cherry Allan's picture

Cycling and the economy

Cycling contributes more than many people think to local and national economies...
Cycling in town
Headline Messages: 
  • Our excessive dependence on motorised road transport imposes significant economic costs on society. These include: congestion; road casualties; physical inactivity and the ill health caused by it (e.g. obesity); pollution (and the associated damage to buildings, ecosystems, agriculture and health); as well as the geopolitical costs of maintaining fossil fuel supplies in an increasingly unstable global environment.
  • Cycling could substantially reduce these risks, while strengthening local economies in both urban and rural areas; supporting local businesses and property values; boosting the economic productivity of a healthy and satisfied workforce; and enabling disadvantaged groups to gain skills and access employment opportunities.
  • Local and national government, businesses and economic regeneration partnerships are therefore well advised to invest more heavily in promoting cycling; whilst the tax system should offer greater support.
Key facts: 
  • If cycle use increases from less than 2% of all journeys (current levels) to 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2050, the cumulative benefits would be worth £248bn between 2015 and 2050 for England - yielding annual benefits in 2050 worth £42bn in today’s money.
  • In 2009, production losses due to mortality and morbidity associated with CVD (cardio vascular disease) cost the UK over £6bn, with around 21% of this due to death and 13% due to illness in those of working age. Physical activities, like cycling, help combat CVD.
  • Occasional, regular and frequent cyclists contributed a ‘gross cycling product’ of c£3bn to the British economy in 2010. Around 3.6 million cycles (‘units’) are sold in GB each year.
  • The average economic benefit-to-cost ratio of investing in cycling & walking schemes is 13:1.
  • Academics who studied the cost benefit analysis used by Copenhagen to decide whether to build new cycling infrastructure, concluded that cars cost society and private individuals six times more than cycling.
  • On average, cycle commuting employees take one less sick day p.a. than non-cyclists and save the UK economy almost £83m.
  • Although cyclists may spend less than car-borne shoppers per trip, their total expenditure is on average greater because they tend to visit the shops more often.
  • On 9th Avenue (Manhattan), where a high quality cycle lane was rebuilt in late 2008, retail sales increased by up to 49%, compared to 3% borough-wide.
  • Together, mountain biking and leisure cycle tourism contribute between £236.2m and £358m p.a. to the Scottish economy, with a cumulative gross value added of £129m.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • The economic benefits of investing in small scale projects that typically benefit cycling are often underestimated. On the other hand, car-dependence is a significant cost for society and large scale transport projects (e.g. roads) are not the value-for-money they are often thought to be.
  • Cycling makes a positive contribution to the national economy and it is a cost-effective investment. It can help:
    • Reduce congestion;
    • Improve public health and save NHS money;
    • Create jobs;
    • Save employers money and improve productivity;
    • Inject money directly into the economy via the cycle trade;
    • Boost the vitality of town centres;
    • Deliver goods efficiently;
    • Lift house prices.
  • The Treasury should incentivise cycling through:
    • Adhering to the principle that 'the polluter pays' as the basis of taxation of transport users;
    • Maintaining a tax-free mileage rate that makes cycling on business financially worthwhile;
    • Supporting cycle commuting schemes that save businesses and employees tax (e.g. the ‘salary sacrifice’ Cycle to Work scheme);
    • Reducing VAT on cycle repairs;
    • Working with the European Union on changes to the VAT Directive that would encourage cycling (e.g. zero-rating cycles);
    • Maintaining its policy of not taxing cycles for the use of the roads.
  • Both national and local authorities should dedicate sufficient resources to smarter choices, recognising that they rely on revenue rather than capital funding.
  • Economics-focused bodies such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), regeneration agencies, developers and retailers should recognise the value of cycling and take action to promote and encourage it.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
May 2015
Cherry Allan's picture

Health and cycling

Cycling is good exercise and it's easy to fit into the daily routiine. If more people took it up, it could help ward off the health crises facing the NHS...
Healthy cyclist
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling is excellent exercise. It helps people meet the recommended physical activity guidelines, improves their physical and mental health and their well-being, while reducing the risk of premature death and ill-health.
  • Cycling is far more likely to benefit an individual’s health than damage it; and the more cyclists there are, the safer cycling becomes – the ‘safety in numbers’ effect.
  • Cycling fits into daily routines better than many other forms of exercise, because it doubles up as transport to work, school or the shops etc. It’s easier than finding extra time to visit the gym and far less costly.
  • Lack of exercise can make people ill. It can lead to obesity, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, cancers, type 2 diabetes and other life-threatening conditions.
  • Unlike driving, cycling causes negligible harm to others, either through road injuries or pollution, so it’s a healthy option not just for cyclists, but for everyone else too.
Key facts: 
  • People who cycle regularly in mid-adulthood typically enjoy a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger and their life expectancy is two years above the average.
  • On average, regular cycle commuters take more than one day per year less off sick than colleagues who do not cycle to work, saving UK businesses around £83m annually. Also, people who do not cycle-commute regularly have a 39% higher mortality rate than those who do.
  • The health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1, according to studies. The figure that is most often quoted - and endorsed by the Government - is 20:1 (life years gained due to the benefits of cycling v the life-years lost through injuries).
  • Boys aged 10-16 who cycle regularly to school are 30% more likely to meet recommended fitness levels, while girls who cycle are 7 times more likely to do so.
  • In England, physical inactivity causes around 37,000 preventable premature deaths amongst people aged 40-79 per year.
  • In 2013, almost a third of children aged 2-15 were classed as either overweight or obese.
  • Without action, 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children will be obese by 2050 in the UK – and cost the NHS £10 billion p.a.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Policy makers should recognise cycling as a healthy and convenient means of transport and recreation that could be incorporated into the ordinary day-to-day activity of millions of adults and children and so improve health and quality of life.
  • There is good evidence that cycling’s health benefits far outweigh the risks involved and that the more people who cycle, the safer it becomes – the ‘safety in numbers’ effect.
  • Cycling is also a benign mode of transport, causing negligible harm to others. Hence a switch from motorised travel to cycling would improve road safety for all by reducing road danger.
  • Public health and transport/planning policies, strategies and guidance, locally and nationally, should be mutually supportive in promoting and facilitating cycling as active travel; and they should clearly steer professionals towards cross-sector working. This will help tackle the serious, costly and growing crisis of physical inactivity and the health problems associated with it (e.g. obesity, heart disease etc).
  • Directors of Public Health (England) should take advantage of their return to local authorities to engage transport, town and spatial planning and other council departments (e.g. leisure and tourism) more closely in promoting cycling as active travel and recreation.
  • The NHS and its providers should actively promote cycling both to their own employees, to the people in their care, and to the general public; and they should invest in measures to support it (e.g. patient referral schemes, cycling facilities at sites as part of Travel Plans etc).
  • Transport and planning decisions should undergo a ‘health check’ to maximise the potential for positive impacts on active travel and minimise negative impacts. Tackling hostile road conditions is a priority because they put existing cyclists at risk and deter many others including children and young people.
  • Placing the onus solely on cyclists to protect themselves from injury does not tackle the risks they face at source. Health professionals should therefore remain cautious about cycle safety campaigns that focus on personal protective equipment.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
May 2015
Roger Geffen's picture

50 years to double current cycle use says CTC

The Government's latest statistics on cycle use show that it has crept up slightly since last year - and is now about 20% higher than 10 years ago. But at this rate it will take a very long time to catch up with our continental neighbours.
Commuting cyclists on Waterloo Bridge

The rush of new Government transport statistics published on 21 May included an update on pedal cycle traffic.  This showed that cycle traffic rose from 5.0 bn-kilometres to 5.2 bn-km between 2013 and 2014. It has risen by around 20% since 10 years ago.


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Roger Geffen's picture

Thousands at Space for Cycling and Pedal on Parliament rides

Despite 'safety' concerns by officials, over 4,000 riders took part in the Pedal on Parliament ride in Edinburgh, while nearly 500 joined a Space for Cycling ride in Sheffield. Hundreds more joined rides in Newcastle and Aberdeen on 25 April.
Space for Cycling: brightening up the city. Photo: CTC, Creative Commons licence

A cross-party line-up of politicians addressed Pedal on Parliament's mass rally of cyclists in Edinburgh (see also BBC news report). SNP Transport Minister Derek Mackay pledged more funding for cycling, prompting LibDem Willie Rennie to pledge to hold Mackay to his pledge!


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david.murray's picture

Will CWIS keep politicians honest?

Can the latest government offering for cycling be the tincture of truth needed to keep our politicians on track? CTC Communications Manager, David Murray, examines the last parliament's efforts towards 25% of trips being made by bike by 2050.
Vote Bike

You’re forgiven for thinking this is a guest blog from Jonathan Ross. In fact, CWIS isn’t even human. So who (or what) is CWIS?

CWIS is the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy - the latest acronym to join the public policy peleton which is exciting us at CTC (and our friends in the Active Travel Consortium). I can already hear you cry ‘not another strategy’. Fear not - the good news with this one is that it sits firmly in law - fresh on the statute book in the Infrastructure Act 2015 that gained royal ascent in February this year.

Vote Bike

Vote Bike
As the General Election looms, which parliamentary candidate in your area will do the most to support cycling?
Cherry Allan's picture

National transport policy and cycling

The huge benefits of cycling can be maximised by giving it a central role in national transport policy ...
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling provides huge benefits for everyone, whether or not they take up cycling themselves. For individuals, it is a fast, flexible, healthy and cost-saving option for day-to-day journeys; for society, it helps to create a fitter population, a cleaner environment, a vibrant economy and a better quality of life.
  • These benefits can be maximised by giving cycling a central role in national transport policy. This requires strong leadership and ambition; cross-departmental action; sustained funding; nationally determined cycle-friendly design standards; a commitment to tackle deterrents to cycling; and promoting cycling as a safe and normal activity for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. 
Key facts: 
  • The Get Britain Cycling report (April 2013) recommended aiming to boost national cycle use from around 2% of trips in Britain at present, to 10% (roughly German levels) by 2025 and to 25% (roughly Dutch levels) by 2050. It also recommended long-term funding for cycling of at least £10 per person annually, rising to £20 as cycle use rises.
  • According to research commissioned by CTC, the cumulative benefits of meeting these targets would be worth £248bn between 2015 and 2050 to England’s national economy, yielding annual benefits in 2050 worth £42bn in today’s money.
  • The Infrastructure Act 2015 commits the Government in England to a ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy’ in law.
  • Cycling investment has been consistently found to have exceptionally high benefit-to-cost ratios (BCRs) compared with road schemes and other large transport projects.
  • In 2014, Transport for London said that: “Cycling levels in the Congestion Charging zone are […] up by 66 per cent since the introduction of the scheme.”
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • A high-level, sustained commitment to promote, encourage and provide for cycling as a safe and normal activity for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, should be a key element of national transport policy.
  • Cycling has such wide-ranging benefits for policy areas beyond transport that it should be supported cross-departmentally by other government ministries, e.g. health, planning, sport, tourism and recreation, education, environment and the Treasury. This partnership approach should involve the public, private and voluntary sectors, and be adopted at local level too.
  • The Government should set a national cycling target of 10% of trips by 2025 and 25% by 2050.
  • Government transport and planning policy should recognise that cycling both contributes to and benefits from less motor traffic and explicitly support the principle of motor traffic restraint and the mechanisms used to achieve it.
  • The Government should create a cycling budget of £10 per person per year, rising to £20 as cycle use increases, or commit 10% of its transport budget to cycling and walking.
  • Decisions over transport spending should take account of the fact that much road-building has many adverse consequences and its economic benefits are debatable, whereas cycling offers high returns.
  • The appraisal tools used for transport schemes are biased against investing in cycling and need to better reflect its full range of benefits, together with the disbenefits of higher-cost and less sustainable transport.
  • The National Transport Model (NTM), which informs decisions on transport spending, undermines the case for investing in cycling and should be fundamentally overhauled. 
  • More money should be allocated to cycling from other streams, especially public health funds. Road maintenance budgets and the planning system should also be used to provide substantial benefit to cycling.
  • All direct and indirect provision for cycling should be subject to nationally defined cycle-friendly design standards, with mechanisms to ensure that all authorities and agencies comply with them. Action is also needed to boost the professional awareness and skills of anyone who is responsible for delivering policies and planning related to cycling.
  • National policy should recognise that more and safer cycling should and can go hand-in-hand, and that action should be taken to tackle the actual and perceived fears that deter people from cycling, e.g.: high motor traffic volume/speeds, lorries and irresponsible drivers, unfriendly road design, while proper enforcement of road traffic law must have a higher priority.
  • National and local road safety targets for cycling should be rate-based: e.g. the risk of a cycle casualty per mile or per trip. Perception-based targets should also be set for cycling: e.g. the proportion of the public who regard cycling as safe in their area.
  • The Government should establish and fund a national target to give every child the opportunity to take part in cycle training free of charge before they leave school.
  • Cycle safety awareness campaigns should not make cycling appear unduly dangerous.
  • The Government should support all ‘smarter choice’ measures that encourage alternatives to driving, and encourage schools, colleges, employers, the health sector and public transport operators to promote and provide for cycling.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
March 2015
Roger Geffen's picture

Political parties quizzed on their cycling commitments

The Big Cycling Debate yesterday [2 March] proved a useful opportunity to press the three main parties on what they would do to Get Britain Cycling - and crucially, how much they are prepared to spend on it.
John Humphrys chairing The Big Cycling Debate

The debate was organised by CTC on behalf of the UK Cycling Alliance with support from News UK, as part of the Times newspaper's Cities Fit for Cycling Campaign. It took place on the impressive 17th floor of News UK's new London Bridge office. It was chaired by John Humphrys, presenter of BBC's Today Programme and Mastermind, who opened the event by saying that the advantage of Mastermind was that at least the interviewees actually wanted to answer the questions!


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RobbieGillett's picture

The benefits of local campaigning

We take a brief look at what local campaigners can do to boost political support for cycling in their area.
East Sussex CTC and 1066 Cycle Club writing to councillors

Since last April, over 17,000 emails have been sent to incumbent councillors as part of the national Space for Cycling campaign - calling for safer infrastructure conditions so that people of all ages and abilities can cycle.  In places with strong campaign groups such as Manchester and Newcastle, a huge number of letters have been sent by members of the public and a high proportion of councillors have responded positively. 


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SamJones's picture

Cycling is next to … Godliness?

Lent begins today, and for a second year in a row CTC member the Bishop of Ramsbury has given up four wheels, to take up two for the next 40 days and nights.
CTC member and Bishop of Ramsbury on his Pashley

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, enduring temptation from the Devil. Mirroring this, there are those who still attempt to give up a small vice during Lent.

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