More than 2,000,000 Britons are riding at least once a week according to a survey by Sport England, prompting claims that the cycling boom is “here to stay”.
According to quarterly figures from the Active People survey, 132,000 more people are riding for at least half an hour four times a week than in October last year. This makes cycling the third biggest participatory sport across all ages in the UK – only athletics and swimming are more popular.
The positive figures contradict an earlier set of results from the same organisation, which pointed to an annual decline in cycling numbers.
However Ian Drake, British Cycling’s chief executive, said the increase in cycling was partly connected to British cyclists riding high in big events like the Tour de France and the Critérium du Dauphiné, which Chris Froome is currently leading.
Drake said: “The fact that cycling is continuing an upward trend is, of course, in part down to the amazing successes we’re seeing on the world stage with Britain’s cyclists riding high. But medals and role models alone cannot transform Britain into a nation of people on bikes.”
Other factors leading to strong participatory numbers include Sky Ride events, which allow people of all ages to rides on traffic free city roads, Drake said. Fourteen events are planned this summer and, with the Tour de France visiting the UK, Drake added that the summer of cycling would provide thousands more opportunities to win people over to cycling.
While the latest Sport England results paint a promising picture, longer-term figures it compiled in association with the Department for Transport and released six weeks ago pointed to a national decline. In April, the number of people riding at least once a month dipped under 15 percent.