Number of UK cyclists remains unchanged in two years

Government survey finds number of cyclists remains around 15 percent

A cyclist makes his way to work

Wiggins effect? What Wiggins effect? Despite Bradley Wiggins’s Tour de France success, national triumphs at the London Olympics and the country’s supposed new-found love affair with the bike, government statistics suggest cycling levels haven’t budged significantly in the past two years.


Statistics from the Sport England Active People Survey (APS) for the year to October 2012 showed that 15 percent of the nation’s adults cycled at least one a month in the previous 12 months. “The prevalence of cycling in England as a whole has not changed significantly between 2010/11 and 2011/12,” stated the report.

The “bitterly disappointing” figures pour cold water on another, much smaller survey by market research specialists Mintel, which reported earlier this month that 40 percent of the UK population was cycling at least one a month. A summer of historic sporting success was quoted as a driver for booming bike sales.

The APS data found the city with the highest rates of cycling was student-packed Cambridge, where 47 percent of adults cycle at least once a week, though the volume has slipped from a high of 52 percent in the 2010/11 survey. Bicycle-crammed Oxford came in second, at 22 percent cycling at least once a week.

The survey also reported 2011 census figures, which found 2 percent of the national population – or about 1.25m adults – cycled to work.

Jason Torrance, policy direcor at cycling charity Sustrans, said the government needed to prioritise making roads safer and more appealing, and called for more investment in cycle paths: “It is bitterly disappointing to see that cycling levels have not increased over the last year, especially considering the surge in enthusiasm for cycling.”


The Sport England APS uses a sample size of more than 160,000 people, or an average of 500 people per local authority. This is the second year cycling specific data from the survey has been available.