CTC Cycling Statistics
- How many people cycle and how often?
- How many people don't cycle much, if ever?
- How many people own or have access to a bicycle?
- How many trips/miles do people cycle a year compared with other kinds of transport, and what's the average trip length?
- Do men cycle more than women?
- Which age group cycles most?
- What about children and young people, and cycling to school?
- How many people cycle to work?
- What kind of jobs do most cyclists do?
- How many drivers cycle? And how many cyclists drive?
- Is cycle use increasing in Britain?
- Where do people cycle the most?
- How much cycling is there compared with other kinds of transport?
- What's the purpose of most trips?
- How do the levels of cycling in the UK compare to those in other EU countries?
- How many cycles are sold in Great Britain?
- Does cycling help the economy?
- How healthy is cycling?
- How risky is cycling?
- How many cycles are stolen in England and Wales?
Note: we use government sources for most of our figures, and quote them in brackets (the number refers to the table in the relevant publication). See Key.
Unless otherwise stated, the figures below relate to Great Britain (for useful sources specific to Scotland or Wales, see note on the National Travel Survey).
According to the National Travel Survey (NTS 0313):
- About 8% of the population aged five+ cycles three or more times a week (around 4.64 million people).
Otherwise, of over-5s, about:
- 8% cycle once or twice a week;
- 4-5% cycle less than once a week, but more than once or twice a month;
- 6% cycle once or twice a month (although the Active People Survey, based on a much larger sample of the population, found that around 15% of people in England cycled at least once a month);
- 6% cycle less than once a month, but more than once or twice a year.
Again, according to the National Travel Survey (NTS 0313), of over-5s:
- 4% cycle once or twice a year;
- 65% cycle less than once a year, or never (about 37.7 million people).
- 44% of people aged five+ own or have access to a bicycle (NTS 0608)
4. How many trips/miles do people cycle a year compared with other kinds of transport, and what's the average trip length?
On average, in England:
- Each person makes 14 trips by cycle a year (all age groups) (NTS 0409); and cycles 49 miles;
- Each person makes 923 trips each year by 'all modes' (i.e. car, public transport, walking etc.), which means that cycling accounts for around 1.5% of all trips (NTS 0409);
- Car drivers make 380 car trips each per year (NTS 0409); and drive 3,235 miles (NTS 0605);
- The average length of a cycle trip is 3.3 miles, while the average length of a car trip is 8.5 miles (NTS 0306):
- In 2013, males (of all ages) made over three times as many cycle trips as females (22 to 7) (NTS 0601);
- Males also cycled four times as many miles (80 as opposed to 20 for females) (NTS 0605);
- 20% of men and 7% of women cycle more than twice a month; while 17% of men, and 12% of women cycle once a year to twice a month (ATT 0216);
- Men are more likely to cycle to work than women. In 2011: 3.9% of male workers cycled to work compared with 1.6% of female workers in England and Wales (Census); while 2.1% of male workers cycled to work compared with 0.6% of female workers in Scotland (ACMRScot).
- Of those aged 16+, 16-44 year-olds cycle most frequently (ATT 0216);
- 21-29 year-olds tend to make 22 cycle trips per year, more than any other age group (the average for all ages is 14) (NTS 0601);
- 40-49 year-olds cycle almost twice as many miles per year than any other age group (92 miles, on average – the average for all ages groups is 49 miles p.a.) (NTS 0605);
- In 2011, in England and Wales, cycling to work was most common among 30-34 year-olds - 3.5% of workers in this age group cycle-commuted. Up to 60 years of age, the rate of cycling to work was above 2% for all age groups (Census).
- In 2011, in Scotland, cycling to work was most common among 25-34 and 35-49 age groups (1.7% of each age group, as opposed to 1.4% for all 16-74 year-old workers) (ACMRScot).
- On average, 0-16 year olds make 11 cycle trips per year (compared to an average of 14 for all age groups) (NTS 0601); and cycle around 18 miles a year (compared to an average of 49 for all age groups) (NTS 0605).
As far as cycling to school is concerned, in England (2013):
- Only around 1% of children aged 5-10 and 2% of children aged 11-15 cycled to school (NTS 0613);
- At 43%, cars/vans were the most common form of transport used for the school/college run, even though the average distance travelled is only around 3 miles (NTS 0409 & NTS 0405);
- Travel for education contributed significantly to peak time traffic: it was responsible for about 29% of trips between 8 and 9 am, with an additional 21% escorting others to education (NTS 0502).
In Scotland (2013):
- According to a 'hands-up survey', 5% of children indicated that they normally cycle to primary school, while 0.9% cycle to secondary school (ACMRScot).
In Wales (2013):
- 2% of trips to primary schools and 1% of trips to secondary schools are made by cycle (ATWCWales)
- In 2011 (England and Wales), 741,000 working residents aged 16 to 74 cycled to work. Although this was an increase of 90,000 on the number who cycled to work in 2001, the share of cycling to work was still 2.8% (Census);
- Another 50,000 or so people use bikes as part of a longer journey (Census);
- In 2011 (Scotland), 1.4% of people in employment aged 16-74, cycled to work (ACMRScot).
- 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%) (Census).
In 2014, a record 183,423 employees participated in the Government's 'Cycle to Work Scheme' (a tax-efficient scheme that allows employers to buy and hire out bikes to their staff for a regular payment - the employee can buy the bike at market value at the end of the loan period). This was an 11.6% increase in take-up on 2013. (Cycle to Work Alliance news story).
To investigate local changes in cycling to work throughout England and Wales between 2001 and 2011, have a look at our map.
- People from managerial and professional occupations are more likely to cycle than those from ‘intermediate/routine’ and ‘manual occupations’ (ATT 0216);
- 17% of people from managerial and professional occupations cycle more than twice a month, while 10% and 11% of people from ‘intermediate occupations’ and ‘routine and manual occupations’ respectively cycle more than twice a month (ATT 0216);
- 63% of people from managerial and professional occupations cycle less than once a year, while 78% from ‘intermediate occupations’ and ‘routine and manual occupations’ cycle less than once a year (ATT 0216);
- However, the 2011 Census found that cycling-commuting was most common among those working in elementary and professional occupations, and least common amongst managers, directors and senior officials (Census).
- 15% of full driving licence holders cycle more than twice a month; 18% cycle once a year to twice a month (ATT 0216);
- Around 80% of cyclists hold a driving licence (DfT Press Release)
Yes, cycle use has increased over the last few years:
- Cycle traffic has risen every year since 2008 (TRA 0401);
- In 2014, the number of miles cycled altogether (3.25 billion) was 3.8% higher than in 2013 (more than either motorcycles or buses) (TRA 0401);
- Traffic counts suggest that the number of miles cycled in 2014 was around 12.7% higher than the 2006-10 average (TRA 0401); while the National Travel Survey (a survey of people’s travel habits), suggests growth over this period is nearer to 20% (NTS 0605);
- This is all good news, but there’s a long way to go until cycling reaches the levels seen in 1949 - 14.7 billion vehicle miles (TRA 0401):
- Cycle use increases have been higher in some urban areas: in London, for example, the number of journey stages made by cycle in 2013 went up to 0.6 million, a leap of 58.5% from 1993. (Travel in London Report 7, TfL 2014)
In England (2013/14), more people cycled at least three times a week in Cambridge than in any other local authority (APS CW 0111c):
In Scotland (2013), the proportion of those cycling to work ‘regularly’ is highest in: Edinburgh (12.2%); Moray (10.3%); Argyll & Bute (9.1%); Stirling (8.7%) and Clackmannanshire (8.4%). The proportion of those cycling to work at least ‘regularly’ is 5.6% for Scotland as a whole (ACMRScot).
Source: Road Traffic Great Britain (TRA 0104 & 0402)
Cycling trips (APS CW 0321 & 0401)
Cycling and car trips
Commuting and leisure are the most usual purposes for bicycle trips, the same as for car trips (NTS 0409):
Not well. According to a survey by the European Commission, only 4% of UK respondents cycle daily. Along with Luxembourg and Spain, this is the lowest percentage of all EU 28 countries, except for Cyprus (2%) and Malta (1%).
In contrast, the survey report says: “Approximately four in ten respondents in the Netherlands (43%) cycle daily. Roughly three in ten respondents in Denmark (30%) and Finland (28%) also cycle daily.”
In the UK, only about 1-2% of children cycles to school, but in the Netherlands, around 49% of primary school children cycle to and from school, 37% walk and only 14% are brought and collected by car. In secondary school, the cycling share is even higher. (Source: Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, Fietsberaad. Cycling in the Netherlands. 2009).
According to findings by Coliped, (Association of the European Two-wheeler Parts’ and Accessories’ Industry), the UK cycle industry does not collect any data on production or sales. However, HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) gathers import statistics which do, eventually, equate more or less to consumer sales. Coliped's latest profile of the EU bicycle market suggests that:
- Around 3.35 million cycles were sold in Britain in 2013;
- The vast majority of cycles sold in Britain – c98.5% - are imported;
- c30% of all sales are children’s bikes (an informal estimate).
- According to the Department for Transport's vehicles statistics, 2.2 million cars were registered for the first time in Great Britain in 2013 (Vehicle Statistics, Table VEH 0152). This means that over a million more bikes were sold than there were new cars registered - as there have been for the last few years too.
Sales of cycles increased between 2000 and 2010, but have declined slightly since. The value of the sales over this time is, of course, influenced by inflation.
Yes. Here’s some facts from our briefing on cycling and the economy:
- Occasional, regular and frequent cyclists contributed a ‘gross cycling product’ of c£3bn to the British economy in 2010;
- The average economic benefit-to-cost ratio of investing in cycling and walking schemes is 13:1;
- In 2010, around 23,000 people were employed directly in bicycle sales, distribution and the maintenance of cycling infrastructure. They generated £500m in wages and £100m in taxes;
- 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.
What's more, research commissioned by CTC shows that cycling could, potentially, bring in a lot more:
- 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.
See our full briefing for more on cycling and the economy, together with the sources of the facts above.
Cycling is excellent exercise. It helps people meet recommended physical activity guidelines, improves mental health and well-being, and reduces the risk of premature death and ill-health. It also fits into daily routines better than many other forms of exercise, because it doubles up as transport to work, school or the shops etc. - and it's much cheaper than going to the gym!
Here’s some facts from our briefing on cycling and health:
- 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.
- People who don't 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 various studies. The figure that is most often quoted 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;
- How many calories you use up whilst cycling depends on your weight, height, age and how fast you ride etc., but (very) generally speaking, cycling burns around 5 calories a minute.
Lack of exercise, after all, can make people ill, and obesity is a serious and costly public health concern:
- 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.
See our full briefing for more on health, along with the sources of the facts above.
- Around 67% of non-cyclists in Britain feel that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads; and very nearly half (48%) of those who do cycle share this view. (ATT Fig. 2.4)
CTC believes that, unfortunately, the behaviour and attitudes of some road users, sub-standard highway layout and motor traffic volume and speed all conspire to make cycling feel and look more dangerous than it actually is.
Is cycling really that dangerous?
No. In general, cycling in Britain is a relatively safe activity.
Using official road casualty and road traffic reports, population stats and the National Travel Survey, CTC calculates that, on average:
- One cyclist is killed on Britain’s roads for every 27 million miles travelled by cycle - the equivalent to over 1,000 times around the world;
- Each year, there are 8 million cycle trips for every cycling death;
- The general risk of injury from cycling in Great Britain is just 0.048 injuries per 1,000 hours of cycling.
- According to a paper that looked at sports injuries, tennis is riskier than ‘outdoor cycling’ (5 injuries per 1,000 hours for tennis, 3.5 for cycling). ‘Rowing machine exercise’ came in at 6 injuries per 1,000 hours;
- You are more likely to be injured in an hour of gardening than in an hour of cycling;
- As mentioned above, the health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1, according to various studies.
These facts, together with the reference sources, are included in our road safety briefing.
Risk per billion miles: is it going up or down?
CTC believes that it’s important not to measure the risk of cycling by the number of cyclist casualties alone (i.e. absolute numbers). How much cycling is going on comes into it too: i.e. more cycling casualties could simply reflect the fact that more people are out on their bikes. We therefore look at the risk of cycling per mile (or per trip) etc.:
- Calculations based on both traffic count and National Travel Survey data (2003-2013) suggest that the risk of being killed whilst cycling per billion miles cycled has dropped since 2005:
- When figures for cyclist fatalities are combined with those for reported serious injuries (KSI), the record for recent years is mixed and differs between sources, but it seems clear that the risk in recent years is higher than the 2005-2009 baseline average:
Source for both the above tables: RRCGB (RAS 30013).
For more background on cyclist road casualties, see the Dept for Transport's useful summary, Focus on Pedal Cyclists
The 'safety in numbers' effect
There is good evidence to suggest that increasing cycling exposes each individual to a lower risk of injury: a doubling in cycling has been linked with a 40% increase in cycling casualties – or a 34% reduction in the relative risk to each individual. In 2009, CTC compiled evidence from over 100 English local authorities and found that it appears to be less risky to cycle in places where there are higher levels of cycle commuting. Providing well for cycling, of course, is key to such success.
See our Safety in Numbers campaign for more.
In absolute numbers, reported cyclist casualties for the last few years are as follows:
Source RRCGB (RAS 30001)
How risky is cycling when compared to other forms of transport?
Per mile, cyclists are as likely as pedestrians to be killed on the roads. Cycling and walking, however, are both more risky than car driving, although motorcycling is the most risky kind of transport of all – 3.5 times more so than walking or cycling:
Source: RRCGB (RAS 30070)
Bike security is a serious concern for cyclists and anyone who's thinking of taking up cycling - thousands of machines are stolen every year: 376,000, in fact, from April 2013-March 2014 in England and Wales.
There has been a slight decrease in bicycle theft recently, but the number of thefts of or from motor vehicles has been falling steadily, and much more steeply, for years.
Cycle theft is a substantial problem for police forces to tackle - but the good news is that over the long term, incidents of bicycle theft are now around 40% lower than in 1995.
Source: Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending September 2014, 02. Appendix Table A1
- ACMRScot = Annual Cycling Monitoring Report (Scotland)
- APS = Active People Survey
- ATT = British Social Attitudes Survey: Public Attitudes Towards Transport
- ATWCWales = Active travel: Walking and cycling, 2013 (Wales)
- Census = Census 2011, England and Wales
- NTS = National Travel Survey
- RRCGB = Reported Road Casualties Great Britain (annual report)
- TRA = Road Traffic Statistics
More on our sources:
Active People Survey, Sport England/DfT (APS): an annual household telephone survey of adults aged 16+, run by Sport England. The sample size in 2013 was over 160,000 persons, thus enabling analysis at local authority level.
Active travel: Walking and Cycling, Welsh Government (ATWCWales): statistical bulletin setting out a range of baseline information about active travel by people in Wales. The data are collected from the National Survey for Wales.
Annual Cycling Monitoring Report, Cycling Scotland (ACMRScot): a collection of key cycling statistics and trends to help monitor the progress of the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland 2013 (CAPS). Looks at trends and statistics from both a national and local point of view, using a variety of sources (e.g. the Scottish Household Survey, Scottish Census etc.).
British Social Attitudes Survey: Public Attitudes towards Transport, Dept for Transport (ATT): a representative annual household survey of adults aged 18 and over, which collects data through a combination of face-to-face interviews and self-completion questionnaires. For 2013, there were 3,244 face-to-face respondents and, of these, over 900 filled in questionnaires.
Census 2011, England and Wales cycling analysis, Office of National Statistics (Census): the Census is a count of people and households, so far conducted every ten years. It includes a question on travel to work. The population of England and Wales on Census Day, 27 March 2011, was 56,075,912.
National Travel Survey, Dept for Transport (NTS): a national survey of people's travel habits, carried out via face-to-face interviews and a one-week self-completed written travel diary. Approximately 16,000 individuals in 7,000 households participate each year.
In 2013, NTS coverage changed from sampling residents of all Great Britain to residents of England only. However, the results for England alone do not differ very much from those from Scotland and Wales. For cycling stats specific to Scotland or Wales, see: Cycling Scotland's Annual Cycling Monitoring Report and Transport Scotland's Private Transport webpage; and the Welsh Government's report Active travel: walking and cycling 2013-14.
Reported Road Casualties Great Britain, Dept for Transport (RRCGB): annual report giving detailed statistics about the circumstances of personal injury incidents on British roads, including the types of vehicles involved, the resulting casualties, and 'contributory factors'. Most of the statistics come from ‘STATS 19’ forms that the police fill in for each reported incident. Not every non-fatal road crash gets as far as the police, of course, and it is known that incidents involving pedal cyclists are under-reported.
Road Traffic Statistics, Dept for Transport (TRA): annual road traffic estimates mainly based on around ten thousand manual counts, which are combined with data from a national network of around 180 automatic traffic counters (ATC) data, plus road lengths to produce overall estimates.
- For more detailed data and background information not only on the topics below, but also on a wide range of others - from health, road safety and criminal justice, to cycle-commuting and rights of way (and much more) - see our campaigns briefings
- See our ‘Ten Common Questions’ for a refutation of common anti-cycling messages