Growing popularity of cycling led by increase in female riders, according to Sport England survey

Approximately 100,000 more people cycling for leisure and sport

Woman works out on her bicycle in the rain

Cycling continues to grow in popularity, led by an increase in female riders, according to new statistics released by Sport England.

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The annual Sport England Active Lives survey, published this month (October 2019), shows approximately 100,000 more people are cycling for leisure and sport than in the previous year.

Among that number is a significant rise in the number of women riding, contributing to a total of 6.3 million adults cycling for leisure and sport.

That figure relates to the number of people (aged 16+) who had ridden at least twice in the previous 28-day period. The survey also showed an increase in walking, swimming, general fitness activities and adventure sports, but a decrease in racket sports.

While the number of men cycling for leisure and sport decreased by 0.4 per cent, the number of women increased by 0.6 per cent.

The number of cycle commuters has remained at the same level, meanwhile, with 3.1m partaking in ‘cycling for travel’.

HSBC UK Let's Ride Southampton, female cyclists
British Cycling says its Breeze programme is attracting record numbers of riders.
Paul Greenwood/SWPix.com

British Cycling’s delivery director, Dani Every, heralded the benefits of cycling, dubbing the latest figures “reassuring” and “refreshing”.

“Cycling is the solution to so many of society’s challenges – from air pollution to physical inactivity and obesity – and these figures are a reassuring sign that an ever-increasing number of people are choosing to get on their bike,” she said.

“The fact that there has been a significant increase in the number of women cycling is truly refreshing and is testament to our work to break down the barriers for women – with our HSBC UK Breeze programme experiencing record numbers and more female members joining British Cycling in the past year than in any other of our 60-year history.”

Cycling is the solution to so many of society’s challenges – from air pollution to physical inactivity and obesity – and these figures are a reassuring sign that an ever-increasing number of people are choosing to get on their bike
Dani Every, British Cycling

Every also revealed 41 per cent of the population have ridden a bike at least once in the last year, and 57 per cent of people want to cycle more.

She added: “Through our innovative portfolio of programmes and our world class facilities we continue to improve access for people who are less likely to engage with our sport.”

The growing popularity of cycling reflects the general increase in activity among adults in England across the 12 months from May 2018 to May 2019.

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In total, more than 500,000 more adults are now classified as ‘active’, according to the Sport England survey, while there are 122,000 fewer ‘inactive’ adults.