New data for cycle use in England show that the Olympic bounce in 2012 perhaps wasn't quite as powerful as commentators at the time thought it might be. But the very fact that the Department is publishing these figures shows that some things are improving.
Half of the population cycle once a month or more in Cambridge

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published its figures for cycling and walking for the period October 2011 to October 2012.

They show that levels of cycling remain more or less unchanged, with some local authorities seeing increases, and others decreases.

Overall, the proportion of people who cycle at least once a month in England remains at 15%, whereas 10% cycle once a week, also unchanged. The proportion cycling 3 times or more per week has risen from 4% to 5% of the population, but the change is not statistically significant.

It is the figure for those who cycle 5 times a week or more which is most useful, as this will potentially allow comparisons to be made with the Census figure, which is extremely robust. This has remained unchanged at around 3% - similar to the 2011 Census result [2] which appeared last month.

Places like Cambridge (25%), Oxford (14%) and York (10%) still appear to have the highest number of everyday cyclists, but as sample sizes are small (only 500 people per local authority), caution is required when examining year on year changes.

These figures show that the Olympic bounce - visible in London - may not have rippled out to the wider country. The Government needs to learn from this that the effect of inspirational events like the Olympics won't change everyday cycling behaviour unless conditions improve locally.

Chris Peck
CTC Policy Co-ordinator

However, the very fact that these figures are published by the DfT at all is a good result. The Times's campaign 'Cities fit for cycling' [3] called specifically for a national audit of cycling in Britain to determine the risks in different locations, and the decision to adopt these figures was made by the Department - in consultation with cycling organisations - in response.

Until this dataset began to be published, the DfT only published nationwide figures for cycle use. According to the 2011 National Travel Survey, cycle use rose by 16% on the previous year. 2012's figures will only be made available later this year.

The tables on cycle use can be downloaded below.

Data on local cycle use published by DfT in April 2013 [4]477.5 KB