Support with cycling inspires drivers to switch to pedal power for short journeys

woman cycling towards camera in city cycle lane
Big Bike Revival supports and encourages people to choose to cycle for short, everyday journeys
Big Bike Revival is Cycling UK's flagship programme which supports people to start cycling or to take it up again. With many of those taking part reporting that they have switched to cycling over driving for many of their shorter journeys, the cycling charity believes that similar programmes are needed to turn the UK into a cycling nation
  • Over a third of non-cyclists supported by Cycling UK started cycling 50% of journeys previously driven
  • 40% of UK adults own a bike but only 12% cycle once a month or more
  • Project cost £25 per head: costs of obesity estimated at £920 per head

It’s the time of year when new bikes are traditionally gifted in their thousands to children and adults alike. But why are so many bikes lying unused in sheds and garages across the land? Cycling charity Cycling UK says that the UK could be a nation where cycling is the natural choice for short journeys, if people are given the right support.

The organisation’s flagship Big Bike Revival programme supported over 80,000 people to begin or return to cycling between April 2021 and March 2022. Over a third (36%) of respondents to the three-month follow-up survey reported that they had started cycling 50% of the journeys they previously drove.

With the creation of an estimated 77,000 new cycling trips of 1.5 miles on average, this is the equivalent of going halfway to the moon!

The benefits of cycling are clear: it saves money, reduces congestion and pollution and improves health and wellbeing. The vast majority of survey respondents reported feeling happier after attending a Big Bike Revival event. In addition, over half experienced improved mental and physical wellbeing.

Despite cycling’s benefits, currently only 2% of journeys in the UK are cycled. Cycling UK believes that more low-cost interventions like the Big Bike Revival are essential to achieving government targets across the UK: doubling cycling journeys in England by 2025; reducing car journeys by 20% in Scotland by 2030; significantly reducing car journeys in Wales by 2040 and for 20% of journeys under one mile to be cycled in Northern Ireland by 2025.

 Cycling UK CEO Sarah Mitchell said:

“These dramatic results show the difference it can make when we support people to cycle as a form of transport rather than a sport.

“The programme’s track record of getting people out of cars and onto a bike is a clear sign that people are willing to cycle when it is introduced to them in the right way. I’m especially pleased that the Big Bike Revival has reached people who don’t usually cycle, like women and people from minority ethnic groups.

“The Big Bike Revival is a blueprint of how to get more people in the UK cycling, particularly in harder to reach areas. This is vital as the need for cycling - a cheap and accessible form of transport - will only grow as the cost of living crisis deepens.” 

The results are part of a report on the Big Bike Revival, which aims to break down barriers to cycling by upskilling people in cycle maintenance, teaching them to ride or boosting their confidence with led rides and other activities.

With £2 million of funding from the Department for Transport, over 300 community and not for profit groups delivered free activities in areas across England between April 2021 and March 2022.

For Zoe Bird, 46, from Derby, attending cycle maintenance sessions for women through Big Bike Revival encouraged her to start cycling for the first time as an adult. As well as enjoying the sense of freedom and the environmental benefits of cycling, it has made a real difference to her transport habits.

She said: "Big Bike Revival has given me the confidence and self-belief to swap my commute and errand journeys from driving to cycling missions. Cycling isn't just for Lycra clad sporty people!"

Active Travel Minister Jesse Norman said:

“It’s great news that this programme has transformed travel habits and given thousands of people the confidence to switch to cycling. 

“The Government has committed £600m since the start of the pandemic to accelerate the use of active travel. It is a great way to get fit, save money and keep the planet green.”


Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often.
  2. A summary of the Big Bike Revival report 2021/22 is available.
  3. Cycling UK CEO Sarah Mitchell is available for interview on 29 and 30 December.
  4. A selection of images, showing the core model of Big Bike Revival support, fixing bikes, teaching skills and organising confidence-building rides can be found here:

Press contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Jennifer Young on 0777 540 3652 or email Out of hours, call 07786 320 713.