Cycling Stats in UK

Cycle Rates in UK Summary

  • Cycling on the road in the UK has increased 12% up the last 10 years (using 3 year rolling average).
  • The biggest increase has been on surfaces other than the road. The % Cycling ‘mainly on the road’ has fallen from 46% (2002) to 40% 2009[1]
  • London has seen the biggest boom with over 110% increase since 2000.
  • Britain is spending more on bikes.
  • Cycling is a diverse activity with participants from all socio-economic groups, but cycling rates are highest amongst young professional men.

According to National Transport Survey, the proportion of people who never cycle during the year fell from 71% of the population to 68% [2]

Cycle Rates by City and Region


cycle-rates-major-cities. Source: Dept of Transport statistics

See full list of cycle rates by City in England

Cycling in London

There has been a 117 per cent rise in cycling since 2000 on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN).

Retail Sales UK

Retail booming. Retail sales have grown by more than 15 per cent in the last year. Britons have being spending more on bikes, whilst, spending on cars (right hand side) has fallen from £40bn to £35bn. [4]

There has been a bigger growth in expenditure on cycling than growth in cycling distance. It seems we are developing a taste for more expensive bikes. Perhaps helped by the cyclo sportive boom and the greater interest in ‘classic’ style commuting bikes rather than the cheapest MTB’s that we used to prefer.

British Cycling

British Cycling Membership. British Cycling has reported that its membership has swelled to over 50,000 in 2012, a 100% increase since 2008. It’s the highest level of membership since the organisation formed in 1959.

Sky Ride Events

More than 298,000 people have taken part in the free Sky Ride events since they started in July 2009. [5]

Cycle Towns

Six towns applied to become ‘cycle towns’ with extra funding; it was hoped they would provide innovative ways to increase cycling. The Dft suggests in these six towns which participated Aylesbury, Brighton & Hove, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster with Morecambe, there was an average increase in cycling across all six towns of 27%. This was much higher than corresponding increases in other cities. [6]

Cycle Safety

According to data produced by ONS, there has been improvement in cycle safety in past two decades. The reported fatalities per KM travelled has nearly halved. This is due to a combination of traffic calming measures and also reflects gains from increased numbers cycling. [7]

More at Fatalities by mode of transport

killed on british roads

Fatalities in UK since 1920s. See also, changing attitudes to road deaths

But cycle casualties increasing compared to car users

Cycle fatalities

Cycle deaths and casualties

Safety in Numbers

Source: CTC – safety in numbers

  • There is a strong correlation between higher cycling rates and improved safety. Countries with highest fatality / per km cycled have the lowest rates of cycling.

Why Safety in Numbers?

  1. Drivers more used to seeing cyclists on roads.
  2. More cyclists tends to encourage development of cycling infrastructure
  3. Motorists more likely to have cycled and be empathetic with needs of cyclists.
  4. Safe roads encourage cyclists

Cycle Fatalities Compared to Fatalities related to Lack of Exercise

 Source: McPherson, Klim. (2002). Coronary heart disease: estimating the impact of changes in risk factors; Klim McPherson, Annie Britton and Louise Causer. – London
Despite cycling being perceived as a ‘dangerous’ exercise. Society is arguably ignoring hidden dangers of sedentary lifestyles.

  • Deaths from cycling in 2003 were 113
  • Deaths from cancer and CHD related to inactivity were 85,000

Cycle Rates by Town

Cycle Rates in the UK vary tremendously depending on local factors.

The highest rates of cycling occur in university towns such as Cambridge, Oxford and York, with rates of greater than 20%. In other cities, rates can be less than 0.5%.

Bike Use by Demographic

Men are nearly three times more likely to cycle than women. The gap is largest amongst the age group 11-21. [8]



Britain’s Bike Boom in Perspective



In 1949 there were 24 billion kms cycled in the UK – a 33% of all the vehicle miles travelled. By 2009 this had fallen to 5 billion kms, just 1% of vehicle miles [10]

The 2001 Census gives a figure of 638,000 for the number of people who use bikes as the main mode of getting to work in England – 2.83% [11]

A 2007 survey of Public Attitudes to the environment noted that 10% of people use a bike to get to work – 4% as the main mode and 6% as an alternative mode.

Cycle Use in Other Countries

Britain still lags behind countries with similar weather, population density and geography.

  • Holland – 27% of trips, 848 km per person per year
  • Denmark – 19%, 936 km pp/year
  • Germany – 10%, 291 km pp/year
  • UK – 2%, 75 km pp/year

Though higher than the US where the figure is more like 1%

Cycling Through Red Lights

A survey by Transport for London at 5 junctions in London, found that 17% of cyclists went through a red light. (Stats on red lights)

In a survey of cyclists asked whether they go through red lights 1.9% said “Yes, frequently.” 11.8% – Yes, sometimes. 19% – ‘rarely and 42% – never (red lights – with satirical look at media reaction)

Benefits of a Cycle Boom

1. Safety According to the Jacobsenís Growth Rule, if the amount of cycling doubles, the risk per cyclist falls by 34 percent. If cycling halves, the risk per cyclist increases by 52 percent. Source: Safety in numbers, more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling, [12]

2. Health Cycling at least twenty miles a week reduces the risk of heart disease to less than half that for non-cyclists who take no other exercise. [13] 70% of women and 60% of men fail to take sufficient exercise (30mins walking per day). Obesity is forecast to rise.

2. Less Congestion. Congestion costs the UK economy over £20bn a year, cycling can play a role in limiting congestion.

3. Quickest Way to Get to Work. A 2004 survey by the Chartered Management Institute found that the most reliable way of getting to work is by bicycle.

4. Solution to rising oil prices. Cycling typically saves users money.

5. Less Pollution. Research published in 1991 suggested that a tenfold increase in cycling from car use could save up to three quarters of a million tonnes of carbon monoxide,100,000 tonnes of nitrogen dioxide, and 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere (CTC (1993). Bikes not fumes:)



  1. [1] National Transport Survey. web link
  2. [2] Dept for Transport, 2011
  3. [3] Cycling in London TfL, Cycling Revolution 2010, pdf
  4. [4] Source: ONS | CTC
  5. [5] Cycling Weekly Oct, 2010
  6. [6] DFT, Cycle Towns
  7. [7] Department for Transport, traffic safety, latest
  8. [8] National Transport Survey, 2010. Web link
  9. [9] From the ONS Social Trends 40, 2010, Dominance of the car
  10. [10] CTC Facts and Figures
  11. [11] CTC Facts and Figures
  12. [12] PL Jacobsen, Injury Prevention, Sept 2003. (Vandenbulcke et al, 2009). Cycle Rates by Country.
  13. [13] (Source: British Heart Foundation, Morris)

26 Responses to Cycling Stats in UK

  1. Lacey January 17, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

  2. Rob Smith October 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm #


    I’m currently using cyclists as a study for my undergraduate dissertation and would like to reference some of the stats off this blog.. I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the following piece of information from please? So I can reference it direct.

    “Cycling is a diverse activity with participants from all socio-economic groups, but cycling rates are highest amongst young professional men.”

    Many thanks in advance,

  3. Jonomc June 18, 2011 at 1:42 am #

    I don’t personally like the congestion argument – depending on location / traffic it may be that cycling to work takes longer than the car – I just think there are too many variables to make it a worthwhile statistic.

    For me though I have to travel 11 miles into London and 11 miles back at night – it take between 35 and 40 minutes – on public transport it is 50 minutes! The car is totally pointless – with the congestion charge and more importantly parking cost – I also think it is quicker to do the 11 miles by bike in the rush hour – this all said though for less busy towns and / or longer distances the car may be quicker.

  4. Lewis May 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Oh, I see now. Thanks for that :)

  5. tejvan May 3, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    Costs of Congestion. Basically time is an economic cost. If you spend one hour in traffic jam, that is one hour you could have been productive.

    - Higher labour costs Think of a firm paying someone £15 an hour – lost productivity
    - Extra cost of petrol.

  6. Lewis May 2, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Interesting post :D

    I’m intrigued… how does congestion actually cost money? I’m trying to figure it out, but I can’t think of anything. Please indulge my curiosity :)

  7. tejvan April 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    cheers, Pipps and Westfield Wanderer – it was interesting to look into it.

    • Ben K January 22, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Hi Tejvan,

      I’m delivering a talk to members of the public as part of a consultation on local cycling infrastructure. I wanted to use ‘Cycling fatalities compared to fatalities caused by lack of exercise’ graph. Firstly – is that ok? And secondly, because I know people will ask me about this – how can the data for the graph be from 2003, when the book was published in 2002?


  8. Pipps April 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Great stats! Thanks

  9. WestfieldWanderer April 25, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Excellent piece of reference work. Thank you.


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