New figures on local cycle use are "a powerful tool for measuring progress"
Overall, 15% of adults in England cycled at least once a month. Rates were highest in the South East (18%) and lowest in the West Midlands (12%).
Locally though, the figures show huge variations. The places with the highest proportion of the adult population cycling at least once a month were Cambridge (35%), Gosport (24%), Richmond-upon-Thames (22%) and Rutland (22%). South Cambridgeshire, Lancaster, Bristol and Hart all reached 20%. The Isles of Scilly and the City of London were recorded as having scores above 20%, but the numbers of people in the survey sample are too small for statistical confidence.
However, in terms of purely utility cycling (i.e. day-to-day work, shopping and other non-recreational journeys), London came highest, with 5% of residents cycling at least once a month for these purposes, compared with a national average of 3%. Cambridge was again the top-performing area for utility cycling - with 20% of residents cycling for this purpose at least once a month. Gosport scored 12%, the cities of Bristol and Oxford and the London borough of Hackney all recorded 11%, while Lambeth scored 10%
The lowest level of cycle use was in Blackburn with Darwen, with only 7% of residents doing any kind of cycling in a month (compared with the national average of 15%). Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale, Knowsley, Rotherham, Calderdale, Oadby & Wigston, Luton, Barking & Dagenham and Hillingdon all scored just 8%.
The new figures, collected by Sport England through the Active People's survey, now make it possible for the first time to compare overall levels of cycle use in different local authority areas. Although many local authorities measure cycle use, they are free to choose how to measure this, so figures from different councils cannot be compared with one another. The only previous means of comparing local cycle use levels was through the census, which only provides data once every 10 years, and covers cycle commuting only.
Welcoming the figures, CTC's Campaigns & Policy Director Roger Geffen said:
"These new figures not only show what levels of cycle use are possible in this country, but are also a powerful tool for measuring progress. The Health Secretary and local councils now have new legal duties to improve public health. CTC will now be urging national and local government to encourage all local authorities to aim to match the levels of cycle use of England's best performers."
Transport Minister Norman Baker MP said:
“In July, I decided to publish the findings of this survey as a way to let local authorities see how they compare with similar areas. It is important that communities can see how successful any interventions they have made are, as well as understanding where they may need to make improvements.
“Cycling and walking are good for the environment and good for the health of the nation, so having these statistics for the first time is extremely useful. I am keen to use these figures to help increase cycling and walking across the country and would encourage local councils to consider what further steps they might want to take locally to achieve this. I expect the Olympics will also inspire people to get out and about on foot and by bike.”
These new figures not only show what levels of cycle use are possible in this country, but are also a powerful tool for measuring progress. The Health Secretary and local councils now have new legal duties to improve public health. CTC will now be urging national and local government to encourage all local authorities to aim to match the levels of cycle use of England's best performers."
CTC's Campaigns Director Roger Geffen
CTC Press Office
1. The new figures have been collected through Sport England's Active People Survey. Previously, this survey had specifically excluded cycling that was not sport or recreational cycling. The opportunity was therefore being missed to collect some vitally important data about levels of day-to-day cycle use (e.g. for work, school or shopping trips) via a survey large enough to allow comparisons to be made of cycle use at a local level.
This has now been rectified, thanks to CTC's campaigning. In future years, these data will prove invaluable for showing which authorities are proving successful in their efforts to boost cycle use locally.
2. Local authorities now have a new duty, under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to take steps to improve the health of their populations. Meanwhile, recent Government guidelines on physical activity recommend that adults should undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Regular cycling is one of the best ways to enable people to integrate regular physical activity into their day-to-day lives.