Sport England figures reveal 100,000 more people cycling for leisure, while number travelling by bike plateaus

Figures from Sport England’s latest Active Lives Adult Survey have revealed that while the number of people cycling for sport and leisure has increased, there has been no change in the number of people choosing to travel by bicycle.

The data shows cycling for sport and leisure has increased by 100,000 in the 12 months leading up to May 2019, contributing to an overall figure of one million more active people in England over the past year.

British Cycling said the figures indicate a significant increase in cycling amongst women. Cycling Delivery Director Dani Every stated: “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. Regardless of people’s motivations, cycling really is an activity that can be embraced by people of any age, from any background, with 41% of the population having ridden a bike at least once in the last year.”

According to British Cycling, 57% of people want to cycle more often: “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 – including women, children and those with lifelong illnesses or disabilities.

The organisation said the increase in the number of women cycling was ‘truly refreshing’ and revealed its HSBC UK Breeze programme experienced record numbers, while more female members joined British Cycling in the past year than any other in its history.

However, the figures aren’t all rose-tinted. According to the data, people choosing to cycle for travel purposes have fallen by around the same margin since the end of 2016, and show no improvement on figures from last year.

Despite ongoing cycle infrastructure projects in cities such as London, Cambridge and Manchester, it would seem that many people are still unwilling to travel from place to place on England’s roads by bike. This could be down a variety of factors, including inadequate infrastructure provision for disabled people, increases in bike theft, dangerous junctions, and other road safety concerns around HGVs and motorists.

CI.N discussed potential barriers to cycling and cycle sales and how the industry can break these down with members of the bike trade, who also cited infrastructure and road safety as reasons for a lack of cycling uptake.

While an increase in leisure cycling is good news for many in the trade, there are still inroads to be made to convince people to get on their bikes be it commuting to work, school or replacing short car journeys, and a lot of potential to be had in this area too.

Hayley Everett

Multimedia Reporter

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