Flatlining cycling numbers “failure by successive governments”

Cambridge cyclists
People cycling in Cambridge which has the highest amount of regular cyclists. Photo: Klaas Brumann CC
A long term failure by successive governments is to blame for a flatlining in the number of people cycling in England, the national cycling charity, Cycling UK has said.
  • Cycling has accounted for 2 percent of all journeys in England since 1989
  • Figures suggest a decline in women, children and diverse backgrounds cycling
  • White men still most likely group to continue cycling
  • Opportunity for Government to reverse this trend

Cycling accounts for only two per cent of all journeys in England -  a level that’s remained static since 1989, according to the Walking and Cycling Statistics, England 2016 released today by the Department for Transport.

Cycling UK is particularly concerned that the growth in cycling appears mainly to be among white males, and believes this suggests an ongoing decline among women, children and people from diverse backgrounds.

While casualty figures show cycling is “a safe way of travelling and serious accidents are rare”, three fifths of adults over 18 feel it is too dangerous to cycle, with 68 percent of women saying the roads are too dangerous to 50 percent of men.

Roger Geffen, Cycling UK’s Policy Director commenting on the latest findings said:

“This flatlining is clearly indicative of a long-term failure to invest in cycling and walking by successive governments.

“Cycling UK wants to see more women, children and people from diverse backgrounds out cycling – when we have an increase in their numbers we will know government is on the right track.”

England now has a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS). This strategy shows Government spending will decline sharply to just 72p per head in two years’ time.

While government spending on cycling and walking in England set to decline, mayors of London and Greater Manchester are investing £17 per head, and Scotland is close behind with plans to invest £15 per head for the whole country.

Mr Geffen continued:

“Air pollution, congestion, physical inactivity all impose increasing costs on society. The country needs more people cycling and walking. The Government and local authorities now have the opportunity to increase cycle use among young and old, men and women alike. Significant investment is necessary if the Government is to achieve its aspiration for cycling and walking to become the natural choice for shorter journeys.”

Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. For the Government’s Walking and Cycling Statistics, England 2016 see: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/674503/walking-and-cycling-statistics-england-2016.pdf

Press contact information

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org