CTC Cycling Statistics

Do you need facts and stats about cycling? CTC's Campaigns and Policy team look at all statistics, reports and research about cycling and have put together this handy guide.

CTC is often asked to provide information on cycling. This page and the document below aim to provide answers to some of the most common queries.

For a refutation of the common ‘anti-cycling’ messages please read ‘Ten Common Questions’.

Note – references to Great Britain means Scotland, Wales, England but NOT Northern Ireland.

1. How many cyclists are there in Great Britain?

- 43% of the population owns or has access to a bicycle (National Travel Survey)

- The National Travel Survey also says that around 8% of the population (3 million people) cycle 3 times a week or more, in total 34% of the population (20 million people) say they cycle once a year or more.

- According to the 2011 Census, 741,000 people use a bicycle as the main form of transport for getting to work in England and Wales, up by 90,000 from 2001. In addition, another 50,000 or so use bikes as part of a longer journey.

-The UK's level of cycling does not compare well with that of most other European countries.

2. Is cycle use increasing?

- The mileage cycled in the UK is up 20% over the last 15 years from 4 billion kms in 1998 to 5.1 billion kms in 2013.

- Cycle use increases have been higher in urban areas: in London cycle use on main roads over the 2012/13 financial year was 176% higher than in 2000

3. Where do people cycle the most in England and Wales?

- The 2011 Census results show that the number of people who cycle to work has increased by 17% from 2001 to 2011, but the share of overall commuting is virtually unchanged. Cambridge has the highest level of cycling, at 30% of residents in employment or education travelling by cycle - all local authorities are mapped.

- In 2011 surveys in England found that the top 20 places - in terms of proportion of the population who regularly cycle - are:



 % who cycle 3+ days/week

  1. Cambridge


  1. Oxford


  1. Gosport


  1. York


  1. Vale of the White Horse (Oxon)


  1. Southwark


  1. Hackney


  1. Norwich


  1. South Cambridgeshire


  1. Bristol


  1. Lambeth


  1. Taunton Deane


  1. Havant


  1. Wandsworth


  1. Richmond upon Thames


  1. Rutland


  1. North East Lincolnshire


  1. Worthing


  1. Chichester


  1. Arun


4. How many cycles are sold in the UK?

- Sales of cycles has gradually increased over the last ten years, however, the value of those sales has rapidly increased in recent years due to inflation.

Chart - bicycle sales in units and value in the UK - 2000-2012

5. What are the health benefits of cycling?

The problem: a lack of physical activity

- 70% of women and 60% of men fail to reach even the recommended minimum level of physical activity (30 mins of moderate intensity exercise 5 times per week.)

- The average time spent walking or cycling has declined from 16.8 minutes per day in 1972-3 to 11.8 minutes per day in 2005. Over the same period, the time spent travelling by car has increased from 25.4 minutes to 38.6 minutes. (Davis et al, 2007)

- By 2050, if current trends are maintained, 60% of men and 50% of women could be obese with less than 10% having a healthy body weight. (Butland et al, 2007)

The health solution: cycling

- Non-cyclists have been found to have an all-cause mortality 39% higher than those cycle to work, even after taking other factors into consideration. (Andersen et al, 2000)

- Non-cyclists take up to 18% more time off sick than regular commuting cyclist. (Hendriksen et al, 2010)

- Recent estimates suggest that the health benefits from physical activity outweigh the risks by up to 77:1. (Rojas-Ruede et al, 2011)

- The public health risk from road crashes is far lower than the public health benefits of increased cycling. If, by 2030, cycling levels in London increased 8 fold, walking doubled and car use was cut by 40%, the increase in premature deaths per million of the population from road traffic crashes (11 per year) would be offset by savings of 541 lives from increased physical activity and reduced air pollution. (Woodcock et al, 2009)

6. How safe is cycling in Britain?

In general cycling in Britain is a safe activity – per hour spent cycling risks are low; there are roughly 300 years cycled for each cycle death. By comparison the equivalent is one death per 20 years motorcycled – 15 times more risky.

There are 8 million cycle trips for each cycling death and 27 million miles cycled for each death – equivalent to over 100 trips to the Moon and back or 1000 times around the world. 

Cycling safety has also substantially improved in recent years, although at a slower rate than for most other modes. Cycling was 61% safer in 2012 than it was in 2002 (per mile travelled). 

However, measured in other ways cycling remains significantly riskier than some other modes, such as driving, walking or public transport. Figures for each mode, by risk of death per mile, per trip or per hour, can be downloaded below. Attitudes of road users, layout and speed limits on roads all conspire to make cycling feel more dangerous.

Furthermore, as demonstrated above, the health benefits of cycling are large, thus anything that reduces cycling levels is likely to have a huge detrimental effect on the potential gains to public health from increased cycling.

The ‘Safety in Numbers’ effect

Increasing cycling appears to expose each individual to a lower risk of injury. A doubling in cycling has been found to be linked with a 40% increase in cycling casualties – or a 34% reduction in the relative risk to each individual. (Jacobsen, 2003)

Belgian research has found a strong link between places with low levels of
cycling and higher risks (Vandenbulcke et al, 2009).

CTC’s Safety in Numbers campaign (2009) compiled evidence from over 100 English local authorities and found that places with higher levels of cycle commuting tended to have lower risks of cycling.

Recommendations from all of these reports have been the same: that roads be better designed for cycling, encouragement of cycling and enforcement of road traffic law can enable cycle use to increase while also leading to a reduced risk of cycling. It is not, however, inevitable that the numbers of injuries will fall – merely that the risk per person cycling is likely to decline.

7. How many cycles are stolen in England and Wales?

Last year over 462,000 cycles were stolen, representing a serious deterrent to people taking up cycling. This figure has been rising in recent years, in parallel with the increase in cycle use and cycle ownership. At the same time the number of thefts of or from motor vehicles has been falling steeply - cycle theft is therefore becoming a more substantial problem for police forces to tackle.

Chart - Thefts of vehicles and bicycles - 1981-2013

More information

More detailed facts, figures and information can be found in CTC’s briefings.

Subjects include:

Cyclists’ behaviour and the law
Cycling and health
Traffic policing


Andersen, L., et al. ‘All-cause mortality associated with physical activity during leisure time, work, sports, and cycling to work.’ Archives of Internal Medicine, 160. 2000. pp. 1621-1628

Butland B., et al.Tackling Obesities: Future Choices – Project Report. Foresight, 2007.

CTC. Safety in Numbers. 2009 www.ctc.org.uk/safetyinnumbers

COLIBI/COLIPED. European Bicycle Market. 2012

Davis A., et al. Unfit for Purpose: How Car Use Fuels Climate Change and Obesity, Institute for European Environmental Policy, 2007

Department for Transport. National Travel Survey. 2010 – Access to cycles: Tables NTS0608, Frequency of use of cycles: NTS0313

Department for Transport. Reported Road Casualties Great Britain. 2010

Department for Transport. Road Traffic and Speeds. 2011 – Levels of car and cycle use: Table TRA0201

de Hartog et al. ‘Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks?’ Environment Health Perspect. 2010 August; 118(8): 1109–1116.

Hendriksen, I.J.M., et al., ‘The association between commuter cycling and sickness absence.’ Preventive Medicine. 2010, doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.05.007

Jacobsen, P.L., ‘Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling’ Injury Prevention. 2003, 9:205-209 doi:10.1136/ip.9.3.205

Rojas-Ruede, D. et al, ‘The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study’ BMJ 2011;343:d4521 - http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d4521

Vandenbulcke G. et al, ‘Mapping bicycle use and the risk of accidents for commuters who cycle to work in Belgium’ Transport Policy 16(2):77-87

Woodcock J. et al, 'Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: urban land transport.' The Lancet. 2009



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