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The Census and cycle commuting - new report out

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A new report from the Office for National Statistics, issued today, confirms which authorities are getting it right for cycle commuting - and which ones aren't.
Cycling in London is booming
Cycling in London has boomed over the last 10 years

Happily, the report confirms that 90,000 more people commuted by cycle to work in England and Wales in 2011 than in 2001. The data, collected from the last Census, also show that between 2001 and 2011, the number of people living in London who cycled to work more than doubled from 77,000 in 2001 to 155,000 in 2011.

Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield also saw substantial increases. Cambridge too deserves a mention in dispatches – 29% of its working residents cycle-commute, a higher rate than any other local authority (next down is Oxford at 17%).

This is exciting news for these cities, but there are still many places that aren’t doing nearly so well – in 29 local authority areas, less than 1% of working residents cycled to work. What’s more, the proportion of working residents who cycle to work in England and Wales as a whole is still only 2.8%.

It’s good to see cycle-commuting booming in some of our biggest urban areas, but clearly there are many workers elsewhere who could do with more encouragement to see that cycling to work is one of the best, most cost-effective ways of introducing exercise into their daily routines. Promoting the activity to women seems especially important given that the data suggest that males are more likely to cycle to work than females (3.9% compared to 1.6%).

Making the cycling environment more inviting would help – and that, of course, is largely down to local and national government. High quality cycle facilities, lower driving speeds and making urban areas more permeable for cyclists are just a few of the steps that can make a difference and could inspire others to join the 741,000 people who declared their cycle commuting habit on their 2011 Census returns.

More academic analysis is on the way. Dr Crispin Cooper, of Cardiff University's Sustainable Places Research Institute, says: "… ONS Flow data later this year will tell us exactly where everyone’s job requires them to travel in the first place – an aspect well worth considering if we are to understand these patterns of change and their impact on sustainable lifestyles.”

CTC crunched raw Census data last year and mapped the increase or decrease in cycling according to local authority – check out your own area. We've also looked at the relative changes for different types of transport.
 

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