Cycling UK's Cycling Statistics

Cycling UK's Cycling Statistics

Do you need facts and figures about cycling? Cycling UK's policy team continually analyses statistics, reports and research and here’s their latest round-up.
We use official sources, largely those collected by government, for most of our figures. We quote them in brackets (the number refers to the table in the relevant publication). The key to them, and a summary of each source, is available at the bottom of this page.

Contents

  1. How many people cycle and how often?
  2. How many people don't cycle much, if ever?
  3. How many people own or have access to a bicycle?
  4. How many trips/miles do people cycle a year compared with other kinds of transport, and what's the average trip length?
  5. Do men cycle more than women?
  6. Which age group cycles most?
  7. What about children and young people, and cycling to school?
  8. How many people cycle to work?
  9. Demographics
  10. How many drivers cycle? And how many cyclists drive?
  11. Is cycle use increasing in Britain?
  12. Where do people cycle the most?
  13. How much cycling is there compared with other kinds of transport?
  14. What’s the purpose of most trips?
  15. How do the levels of cycling in the UK compare to those in other EU countries?
  16. How many cycles are sold in Great Britain?
  17. What's the average weekly household spend on bikes?
  18. Does cycling help the economy?
  19. How healthy is cycling?
  20. How risky is cycling?
  21. How many cycles are stolen in England and Wales?
1. How many people cycle and how often?

The British Social Attitudes (ATT 0305) survey of adults over the age of 18 suggests that in 2017:

Average frequency of cycling per person, GB 2017
How often? Percentage Millions of people (aged 18+)
Every day, or nearly every day 3% 1.7
2/5 days a week 5% 2.4
Once a week 4% 2.0
At least once a month 6% 3.1
Less often than once a month 10% 5.3
Never nowadays 71% 36.2

 

England:

The DfT's Walking & Cycling Statistics (WCS CW0302), based on a much larger sample of the population, suggests that in 2016/17:

  • 3.4% cycle five times a week (about 1.5 million people of 16+)
  • 5.7% cycle at least three times a week (about 2.6 million people of 16+)
  • 11.9% cycle at least once a week (about 5.3 million people of 16+)
  • 16.9% cycle at least once per month (about 7.6 million people of 16+)

(Population estimates from ONS)

  • According to the National Travel Survey, about 7% of the population aged 5+ cycled three or more times a week in 2017. If applied to the whole of Great Britain, this equates to around 4.2 million people of 5+. (NTS 0313).

Wales:

  • About 5% of adults cycled at least once a week in 2016/17, and 3% at least three times a week, (ATWCWales).

Scotland:

  • About 2.8% of people aged over 16 cycled on at least 1-2 days as a means of transport in the previous week when asked in 2016; 2.1% cycled on 3-5 days, and 1% on 6-7 days.
  • To enjoy themselves, 3.8% cycled for 1-2 days, 1.9% on 3-5 days, and 0.8% on 6-7 days.

(TTS Table 3a). (N.B. This question is asked every other year).

2. How many people don't cycle much, if ever?

According to the National Travel Survey (NTS 0313), of over-fives:

  • 66% cycle less than once a year, or never (equating to about 40 million people in Great Britain of 5+).

The British Social Attitudes Survey 2017 (ATT 0305) found that, of over 18-year olds:

  • 71% never cycle nowadays (about 36 million people of 18+):
% 18+ year-olds who cycle, GB 2017 Cycle Never cycle nowadays
3. How many people own or have access to a bicycle?
  • 42% of people aged five+ (c. 25 million people, if applied to the whole of Great Britain) own or have access to a bicycle. (NTS 0608).
  • In Scotland, 34.4% of households have at least one bicycle that can be used by adults. (TTS Table 18).
4. How many trips/miles do people cycle a year compared with other kinds of transport, and what's the average trip length?

On average, in England (2017):

  • Each person made 17 trips by cycle during the year (all age groups) (NTS 0409); and cycled 60 miles (NTS 0605);
  • Each person made 975 trips by 'all modes' (i.e. car, public transport, walking etc.), which means that cycling accounted for 1.7% of all trips (NTS 0409);
  • Car/van drivers made 390 car trips (NTS 0409); and drove 3,276 miles (NTS 0605);
  • The average length of a cycle trip was 3.4 miles, while the average length of a car trip was about eight and a half miles (NTS 0306):
Car and cycle use, average per person during 2017 (England)
  Car/van driver Cycle All modes
Average number of trips 390 17 975
Average mileage 3,276 60 6,580
Average trip length (miles) 8.4 3.4 6.8
5. Do men cycle more than women?

Yes. On average in England (2017):

  • Males of all ages made almost three times as many cycle trips as females (24 as opposed to nine) (NTS 0601);
  • Males also cycled around four times as many miles (95 as opposed to 25 for females) (NTS 0605):
Average number of cycle trips and yearly cycle mileage by gender 2017 (England)
  Female Male
Trips 9 24
Mileage 25 95
  • Men are more likely to cycle to work than women. In 2011: 3.9% of male workers cycled to work compared with 1.6% of female workers in England and Wales (CensusEW); while 2.1% of male workers cycled to work compared with 0.6% of female workers in Scotland (CensusS, Table DC7101SC);
  • In Wales (2016/17), 4% of men, and 1% women cycled once or twice a week (ATWCWales Chart 3);
  • In Scotland, 4.1% of men and 1.6% women cycle 1-2 days a week as a means of transport; and 5% of men and 2.6% of women cycle 1-2 days a week just for pleasure or to keep fit (TTS Table 25a);
  • Why don't more women cycle? More stats and commentary from Alix Stredwick.
6. Which age group cycles most?
  • Over the period 2013-2017, people in age bands 21-29, 30-39 and 40-49 made more cycle trips a year than any other band (21, 20 and 22 trips respectively). The average for all ages was 16 trips. (NTS 0601);
  • Over the same period, 30-39 and 40-49 year-olds on average cycled 83 and 93 miles respectively each year, outstripping all other age groups. Next down were 21-29 year-olds at 69 trips, with 50-59 year-olds at 64. The average cycle mileage over the year for all age groups was 55 miles (NTS 0605):
Number of cycle trips and cycle mileage; average per year by age, 2013-2017 (England) Trips Mileage

 

  • In 2011, in England and Wales, cycling to work was most common among 30-34 year-olds - 3.5% of workers in this age group cycle-commuted. Up to 60 years of age, the rate of cycling to work was above 2% for all age groups (CensusEW);
  • In 2011, in Scotland, cycling to work was most common among 25-34 and 35-49 age groups (1.7% of each age group, as opposed to 1.4% for all 16-74 year-old workers) (CensusS, Table DC7101SC).
7. What about children and young people, and cycling to school?
  • On average, in 2017, 0-16 year-olds made 13 cycle trips each (compared to an average of 16 for all age groups) (NTS 0601); and cycled around 23 miles over the year (compared to an average of 55 for all age groups) (NTS 0605);
  • As far as travel to and from school is concerned, in England (2013-2017), around 1% of children aged 5-10, and 3% of children aged 11-16 (NTS 0613) cycled:
Travel to school 2013-17 (England): % of children who...
  ...walked ...cycled ...were driven (car/van) ...went by other modes (bus/train etc.)
5-10 year-olds 49% 1% 44% 6%
11-16 year-olds 39% 3% 24% 34%
  • Walking and cars/vans were the most common forms of transport used for the school/college run;
  • The average distance travelled for education purposes was only around two and a half miles (NTS 0613);
  • Travel for education contributed significantly to peak time traffic: from 2013-17, it was responsible for about 29% of trips between 8 and 9 am, with an additional 22% escorting others to education (NTS 0502).

Scotland:

  • According to a 'hands-up survey' in 2017, 5.2% of children indicated that they normally cycle to primary school, while 1.3% said they cycle to secondary school;
  • According to Transport and Travel in Scotland, 0.9% of children cycled to and from school in 2017 (TTS Table 15).

Wales:

  • In 2016/17, 1% of primary school children typically cycled there (this figure was 3% in 2013/14 and 2% in 2014/15). Likewise, 1% of secondary pupils cycled to school. (ATWCWales Summary table & Key points).

Read our in-depth briefing on cycling to school or college for more stats and commentary.

8. How many people cycle to work?
  • In 2011 (England and Wales), 741,000 working residents aged 16 to 74 cycled to work. Although this was an increase of 90,000 on the number who cycled to work in 2001, the share of cycling to work was still 2.8% (CensusEW);
  • Another 50,000 or so people use bikes as part of a longer journey (CensusEW);
  • In 2011 (Scotland), 1.4% of people in employment aged 16-74, cycled to work (CensusS, Table QS701SC);
  • The number of people living in London who cycled to work more than doubled from 77,000 in 2001 to 155,000 in 2011. Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield also saw substantial increases. Cambridge too deserves a mention in dispatches – 29% of its working residents cycle-commute, a higher rate than any other local authority (next down is Oxford at 17%) (CensusEW);

In England, around 4% of commuting trips are cycled each year (NTS 0409):

Travel to work 2013-17 (England): % trips per person by main mode
Walk Cycle Car/van driver Car/van passenger Other
11% 4% 55% 9% 20%

To investigate local changes in cycling to work throughout England and Wales between 2001 and 2011, have a look at our map based on Census 2011 data.

Read our briefing on cycle commuting and cycle-friendly employers for more stats and commentary.

9. Demographics

Type of work (2016/2017), England:

  • Full-time students were more likely to cycle for any purpose at least three times a week than other types of worker - 8.7% of them;
  • Next down were people with lower supervisory/technical or managerial, admin/professional jobs - about the same at 7.4% and 7.1% of them respectively;
  • People least likely to cycle three times a week were those who have never worked and the long term unemployed, and those in ‘intermediate occupations’.
Cycling at least three times a week by occupation
England 2016/2017 (aged 16+)
Cycling for travel Cycling for leisure Any cycling

Source: WCS Table CW0305

  • The 2011 Census found that cycle-commuting was most common among those working in elementary and professional occupations, and least common amongst managers, directors and senior officials (CensusEW);
  • In Britain as a whole, the proportion of cyclists increases with household income (ATT Statistical Release, 2015).
  • In Scotland in 2017, those whose annual net household incomes are over £15k and up to £20k were more likely to cycle to work than those whose income falls into lower or higher brackets: under 10k <1%; 10k-15k = 2.4%; 15k-20k = 3.8%; 20k-25k = 1.8%; 25-30k = 3.3%; 30k-40k 3.5%; 40k+ 2.9% (TTS Table 7)

 

Ethnicity (2016/2017), England:

  • In 2016/2017, people who identified themselves as 'Mixed' and 'White Other' were more likely to cycle at least three times a week than any other ethnic group:
Cycling at least three times a week by ethnicity
England 2016/2017 (aged 16+)
Cycling for travel Cycling for leisure Any cycling

Source: WCS Table CW0305

Impairment (2016/2017), England:

  • 6.8% of people with no disability cycled once a week, compared to 2.7% with a limiting disability:
Cycling at least three times a week by impairment
England 2016/2017 (aged 16+)
Cycling for travel Cycling for leisure Any cycling

Source: WCS Table CW0305

10. How many drivers cycle? And how many cyclists drive?

According to DfT’s answer to a Freedom of Information request we made, in 2017:

  • 31% of the people who held driving licences also cycled;
  • 85% of the people aged 18+ who cycled also held a driving licence.
11. Is cycle use increasing in Britain?

Yes, cycle use has largely increased over the last few years (TRA 0401):

  • Cycle traffic has risen almost every year since 2008:
Cycle use in billion vehicle miles, 1949-2017 (GB)
  • Traffic counts suggest that the number of miles cycled in 2017 – 3.27 billion – is around 29% above the figure for 1997.
  • This is all good news, but there’s a long way to go until cycling reaches the levels seen in 1949 (14.7 billion vehicle miles)! (Note, figures before 1993 are not directly comparable to 1992 or earlier, according to the DfT).
  • Cycle use increases have been higher in some urban areas: in London, for example, around 27,000 people cycled across the central London by cycle in 1977 (both directions), compared to 184,000 in 2016 – almost seven times as many.
Long-term trends across the Central London Cordon, 24-hour weekdays, both directions, 1977-2016

Source: Travel in London report 10, TfL (Fig. 3.17).

12. Where do people cycle the most?

In terms of road class, on average each year, four-fifths of cycling takes place on minor roads:

Cycle traffic by road class, yearly average, GB 2013-2017
  Billion vehicle miles %
Rural 'A' roads 0.12 4%
Urban 'A' roads 0.44 13%
Rural minor roads 0.85 26%
Urban minor roads 1.85 57%
Total 3.26 100%

Source: Road Traffic Great Britain (TRA 0402)

Note: the above table reflects cycling on roads only, i.e. not off-road on bridleways or byways etc.

In geographical terms, in England (2016/17), more people cycled at least three times a week in Cambridge than in any other local authority. Others in the top twenty, out of the 359 local authorities surveyed all told (i.e. district, city, borough, county & metropolitan) are (WCS Table 0302):

Proportion of adults cycling at least three times a week, England 2016/17
Top 20 local authorities
1 Cambridge 36.9%
2 Oxford 25.4%
3 South Cambridgeshire 18.6%
4 Hackney 18.5%
5 Exeter 17.6%
6 Cambridgeshire 15.4%
7 Norwich 14.9%
8 Isles of Scilly* 14.7%
9 York 14.3%
10 Taunton Deane 13.6%
11 Hammersmith and Fulham 13.5%
12 Southwark 13.0%
13 Tower Hamlets 12.5%
14 Lambeth 11.7%
15 Bristol, City of 11.4%
16 Gosport 11.4%
17 Oxfordshire 11.2%
18 Kingston upon Hull, City of 10.9%
19 Richmond upon Thames 10.4%
20 Corby 10.3%
Average for England = 5.7%
* Sample sizes for the Isles of Scilly are very small and caution is needed in interpreting these results.

Note: Figures for individual authorities fluctuate quite a bit from year to year, so the data above isn't a perfect reflection of cycle use in any given area. However, it's the best indication we have for how individual councils are progressing on active travel locally.

The DfT's Walking and Cycling statistics cover all local authorities in England, so if yours isn't in the top twenty, you can check the list to find out how they rank.

In Scotland (2016/17), 4.5% of people cycle to work at least regularly. (ACMRScot 2018). The top five are:

Proportion of people cycling to work at least regularly, Scotland 2016/17
Top 5 local authorities
1 Highland 13.6%
2 Moray 11.2%
3 Edinburgh City 10.8%
4 Dundee City 7.5%
5 East Lothian 7.1%
Average for Scotland = 4.5%
13. How much cycling is there compared with other kinds of transport?
Road traffic by vehicle type, yearly average 2013-17, GB
  Average each year
(billion vehicle miles)
Share of traffic
(%)
All traffic (motor + cycle) 252.8 100.0%
Motor vehicles 249.6 98.7%
Cycles 3.3 1.3%
Cars and taxis 198.4 78.5%
Heavy goods vehicles 9.0 3.6%
Light vans 37.3 14.7%
Motorbikes 2.6 1.0%
Bus/coach 2.4 1.0%

Source: Road Traffic Great Britain (TRA 0104 & 0402).

14. What’s the purpose of most trips?

Purposes of cycling: recreation/utility

  • England (WCS Table CW0302)
% of adults aged 16+ who cycle for leisure or utility purpose at least ...
2016/2017 1 x month 1 x week 3 x week 5 x week
Leisure * 13.6% 8.0% 2.3% 1.1%
Travel 8.1% 6.3% 3.3% 2.0%
* For health, recreation, training or competition, not to get from place to place.
  • In Scotland (TTS Table 3a):
Frequency of cycling in the previous seven days, 2016 (Scotland)
  1-2 days 3-5 days 6-7 days 1+ days
Just for pleasure 3.8% 1.9% 0.8% 6.5%
As a means of transport 2.8% 2.1% 1.0% 5.9%

Cycling and car trips:

Commuting and leisure are the most usual purposes for bicycle trips, while car drivers and passengers in 2017 seemed to be focusing most on leisure and shopping. (NTS 0409):

Average number of trips per person during 2017 by purpose and main mode (England)
Purpose Cycle Walk Car/van driver Car/van passenger All modes
Commuting 6 16 80 11 144
Business 1 3 18 1 27
Education / escort education 2 52 25 27 122
Shopping 2 50 85 35 189
Other escort - 12 47 26 87
Personal business 1 24 40 22 96
Leisure * 6 41 96 82 252
Other including just walk 0 57 - - 58
All purposes 17 255 390 204 975
* Visit friends at home and elsewhere, entertainment, sport, holiday and day trip.
15. How do the levels of cycling in the UK compare to those in other EU countries?

Not well. According to a survey by the European Commission, only 4% of UK respondents cycle daily. Along with Luxembourg and Spain, this is the lowest percentage of all EU 28 countries, except for Cyprus (2%) and Malta (1%).

In contrast, the survey report says: “Approximately four in ten respondents in the Netherlands (43%) cycle daily. Roughly three in ten respondents in Denmark (30%) and Finland (28%) also cycle daily.”

Looking at the Netherlands in particular:

  • More than a quarter of all trips made by residents are by bike;
  • In 2016, there were 4.5 billion bicycle trips, spanning a distance of 15.5 billion kms;
  • There are 17 million inhabitants, and 23 million bicycles;
  • Bicycle use, measured in kilometres, was 12% higher in 2016 than in 2005.

For these, and other data, see Cycling Facts, from the Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis/KiM.

16. How many cycles are sold in Great Britain?

In general, data on cycle sales in the UK are based on official import statistics published by HMRC. There is no other freely available source, although the Bicycle Association does offer exclusive access to market intelligence for its members (almost all of which are businesses).

An annual report produced by the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) gathers reports from EU countries, including the UK. Largely based on HMRC figures, Bicycle Association findings and informal estimates, this says that in Great Britain:

  • Just over 3 million+ cycles were sold 2016 (3.5 million in 2015 and 3.6 in 2014). The small decline in sales in 2015 was put down to ‘natural variability’, but the figure in 2016 represented a c20% drop on the previous five-year average; Although there is some speculation about why this might have happened (correction of over-supply in earlier years, the children’s scooter boom, Brexit etc.), no single cause has been identified;
  • In 2016, more cycles were sold than in any of the other EU 28, except for Germany at just over 4 million (note, size of population is a factor here);
  • Although still small, the e-bike market appears to be growing rapidly. 75,000 units were sold in 2016;
  • The vast majority of cycles sold are imported, mainly from the Far East;
  • Around 83,000 cycles a year are manufactured, the main maker being Brompton;
  • 30% of cycles sold are childrens'; 30% MTBs; 10% road; 26% classic/hybrid; 4% folding/'other’;
  • Bike sales account for about half of the total retail value of the cycle market; the other half is made up of sales of parts & accessories including tyres, clothing, and from repairs and maintenance;
  • The average price of a bike (including e-bikes) is around €521 (about £480).

Source: European Bicycle Market & Industry Profile

In 2016, more new cycles were sold in Great Britain than new cars registered: 3 million cycles + v 2.7 million cars (Government's vehicle licensing statistics,Table VEH 0150).

17. What's the average weekly household spend on bikes?

Obviously, how much each household spends on transport varies widely, but on average, it's around £79.70 a week. Only a tiny amount of this goes on bicycles - not needing to buy fuel is, of course, a big saving.

Average weekly household expenditure on transport, 2017 (UK)
  Cars/vans Bicycles (approx.)
Purchase (outright or loan/hire purchase; new or second hand) £28.50 £0.20
Spares/accessories/repairs/servicing £8.30 £0.30
Fuel £20.70 £0.00
Other motoring costs £2.80 £0.00
Total £57.50 £0.50
 
Total transport spend (private and public transport) £79.70
Spend on public transport £18.20

Source: Office for National Statistics: Family Spending (Table A1, section 7).

18. Does cycling help the economy?

Yes. Here’s some facts from our briefing on cycling and the economy:

  • The Cycle to Work Scheme (a tax-efficient scheme that allows employers to buy cycles and loan them to staff for a regular repayment) generates at least £72million in economic benefits for the UK economy in terms of health a year.
  • Occasional, regular and frequent cyclists contributed a ‘gross cycling product’ of c£3bn to the British economy in 2010;
  • The average economic benefit-to-cost ratio of investing in cycling and walking schemes is 13:1;
  • In 2010, around 23,000 people were employed directly in bicycle sales, distribution and the maintenance of cycling infrastructure. They generated £500m in wages and £100m in taxes;
  • On 9th Avenue (Manhattan), where a high quality cycle lane was rebuilt in late 2008, retail sales increased by up to 49%, compared to 3% borough-wide;
  • Together, mountain biking and leisure cycle tourism contribute between £236.2m and £358m p.a. to the Scottish economy, with a cumulative gross value added of £129m.

What's more, research commissioned by Cycling UK shows that cycling could, potentially, bring in a lot more:

  • If cycle use increases from less than 2% of all journeys (current levels) to 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2050, the cumulative benefits would be worth £248bn between 2015 and 2050 for England - yielding annual benefits in 2050 worth £42bn in today’s money.

See our full briefing for more on cycling and the economy, together with the sources of the facts above.

19. How healthy is cycling?

Cycling is excellent exercise. It helps people meet recommended physical activity guidelines, improves mental health and well-being, and reduces the risk of premature death and ill-health. It also fits into daily routines better than many other forms of exercise, because it doubles up as transport to work, school or the shops etc. - and it's much cheaper than going to the gym!

Here’s some facts from our briefing on cycling and health:

  • A study of 264,337 people found that cycling to work is linked with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer, and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), compared to commuting by car or public transport;
  • On average, regular cycle commuters take more than one day per year less off sick than colleagues who do not cycle to work;
  • The health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1, according to various studies. The figure that is most often quoted is 20:1 (life years gained due to the benefits of cycling v the life-years lost through injuries);
  • People who cycle regularly in mid-adulthood typically enjoy a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger and their life expectancy is two years above the average;
  • Boys aged 10-16 who cycle regularly to school are 30% more likely to meet recommended fitness levels, while girls who cycle are 7 times more likely to do so;
  • How many calories you use up whilst cycling depends on your weight, height, age and how fast you ride etc., but (very) generally speaking, cycling burns around five calories a minute.

Lack of exercise, after all, can make people ill, and obesity is a serious and costly public health concern:

  • In England, physical inactivity causes around 37,000 preventable premature deaths p.a. amongst people aged 40-79;
  • In 2015, there were 525 thousand admissions in NHS hospitals where obesity was recorded as a factor;
  • In England (2015), over one in five children in Reception, and over one in three children in Year 6 were measured as obese or overweight;
  • Without action, 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children could be obese by 2050 in the UK, at a cost of £10 billion p.a. to the NHS.

See our full briefing for more on health, along with the sources of the facts above.

20. How risky is cycling?

Is cycling really that dangerous?

No. In general, cycling in Britain is a relatively safe activity.

Using official police-reported road casualty figures, road traffic reports, population stats and the National Travel Survey, Cycling UK calculates that, on average, over 2013-17:

  • One cyclist was killed on Britain’s roads for every 31 million miles travelled by cycle - the equivalent to well over 1,000 times around the world;
  • There were around 9.7 million cycle trips for every cyclist death;
  • The general risk of injury of any severity whilst cycling was just 0.05 per 1,000 hours of cycling.

Also:

  • As mentioned above, the health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1, according to various studies (and depending on the benefits/disbenefits considered).

Despite this, many people are put off cycling because they think it's unsafe:

  • Around 62% of the British population agree/strongly agree that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads. (ATT 0313)

Nevertheless, Cycling UK believes that, unfortunately, the behaviour and attitudes of some road users, sub-standard highway layout and motor traffic volume and speed all conspire to make cycling feel and look more dangerous than it actually is.

Risk per billion miles: is it going up or down?

We think it’s important not to measure the risk of cycling by the number of cyclist casualties alone (i.e. absolute numbers). How much cycling is going on comes into it too: i.e. more cycling casualties could simply reflect the fact that more people are out on their bikes. We therefore look at the risk of cycling per mile (or per trip) etc.:

  • Calculations based on traffic counts suggest that the risk of being killed whilst cycling per billion miles cycled has dropped since 2007. In contrast, though, when cyclist fatalities are combined with reported serious injuries (KSI), though the year-on-year record is mixed, the trend is upwards:
Cyclist fatalities per billion miles cycled, 2007-2017 (GB)

 

Cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) per billion miles cycled, 2007-2017 (GB)

 

Source for both the above charts: RRCGB Table RAS 30013.

For more background on cyclist road casualties, see:

The 'safety in numbers' effect

There is good evidence to suggest that increasing cycling exposes each individual to a lower risk of injury: a doubling in cycling has been linked with a 40% increase in cycling casualties – or a 34% reduction in the relative risk to each individual. In 2009, Cycling UK compiled evidence from over 100 English local authorities and found that it appears to be less risky to cycle in places where there are higher levels of cycle commuting. Providing well for cycling, of course, is key to such success.

See our Safety in Numbers campaign for more.

Absolute numbers

In absolute numbers, reported cyclist casualties for the last few years are as follows:

Cyclist casualties, 2010-2017 (GB)
2010-14 average 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 % change over 2010-14 average % change from 2016
Killed 118 109 113 100 102 101 -9 -1
Seriously injured 3,102 3,143 3,401 3,239 3,397 3,698 19 9
KSI 3,214 3,252 3,514 3.339 3,499 3,799 18 9
Slightly injured 16,029 16,186 17,773 15,505 14,978 14,522 -9 -3
All casualties 19,243 19,438 21,287 18,844 18,477 18,321 -5 -1

Source RRCGB Table RAS 30001

How risky is cycling when compared to other forms of transport?

For the past two years (and, in fact, for a while before that), figures suggest that pedestrians were more likely than cyclists to be killed on the roads per mile travelled.

Cycling and walking, however, are both riskier than car driving, although motorcycling is the riskiest kind of transport of all – around 3-4 times more so than walking or cycling:

Relative risk of different forms or transport 2016 & 2017 (GB): casualty rate per billion miles
2016 2017
Killed Killed or seriously injured Killed Killed or seriously injured
Car driver 2 26 2 25
Pedal cyclist 30 1,011 31 1,160
Pedestrian 35 442 35 446
Motorcycle rider 111 2,001 119 2,061

Source: RRCGB Table RAS 30070.

  • For statistics on potholes (costs, claims and incidents), see our briefing on highway maintenance.
21. How many cycles are stolen in England and Wales?

Bike security is a serious concern for cyclists and anyone who's thinking of taking up cycling - thousands of machines are stolen every year.

  • According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales victimisation survey, there were an estimated 288,000 incidents of bicycle theft between April 2017 and March 2018, down about 54% on 1995.

Not every bike theft incident is reported to or recorded by the police. Over the same period, the police recorded 100,000 bicycle theft crimes.

Source: Crime in England and Wales (Appendix Tables A1 & A4).

More on our sources

Active travel: Walking and Cycling, Welsh Government (ATWCWales): statistical bulletin setting out a range of baseline information about active travel by people in Wales. The data are collected from the National Survey for Wales.

Annual Cycling Monitoring Report, Cycling Scotland (ACMRScot): a collection of key cycling statistics and trends to help monitor the progress of the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland 2013 (CAPS). Looks at trends and statistics from both a national and local point of view, using a variety of sources (e.g. the Scottish Household Survey, Scottish Census etc.).

British Social Attitudes Survey: Public Attitudes towards Transport, Dept for Transport (ATT): the results of the transport-related questions asked in a representative household survey of adults aged 18 and over. The wider survey collects data on public attitudes towards a range of topics through a combination of face-to-face interviews and self-completed questionnaires. The ‘achieved sample size’ for the 2017 face-to-face interviews was 2,963 respondents.

Census 2011, England and Wales (CensusEW), cycling analysis, Office of National Statistics (Census): the Census is a count of people and households, so far conducted every ten years. It includes a question on travel to work. The population of England and Wales on Census Day, 27 March 2011, was 56,075,912.

Census 2011, Scotland (CensusS), Scottish Government. Census of every person and household in Scotland collected every ten years since 1801 (apart from 1941).

National Travel Survey, Dept for Transport (NTS): a long-running survey based on interviews and seven-day travel diaries, involving roughly 16,000 to 18,000 individuals in about 7,000 households each year. For more commentary and detail on the NTS 2017, see our blog.

Note: In 2013, NTS coverage changed from sampling residents of all Great Britain to residents of England only. However, the results for England alone do not differ very much from those from Scotland and Wales. For cycling stats specific to Scotland or Wales, see: Cycling Scotland's Annual Cycling Monitoring Report and Transport Scotland's Transport and Travel in Scotland; and the Welsh Government's reports on active travel: walking and cycling.

Reported Road Casualties Great Britain, Dept for Transport (RRCGB): annual report giving detailed statistics about the circumstances of personal injury incidents on British roads, including the types of vehicles involved, the resulting casualties, and 'contributory factors'. Most of the statistics come from ‘STATS 19’ forms that the police fill in for each reported incident. Not every non-fatal road crash gets as far as the police, of course, and it is known that incidents involving pedal cyclists are under-reported.

Road Traffic Statistics, Dept for Transport (TRA): annual road traffic estimates mainly based on data from around 8,000 roadside 12-hour manual counts, continuous data from around 300 automatic traffic counters, and data on road lengths.

Transport and Travel in Scotland, Transport Scotland (TTS): annual bulletin presenting the answers to the transport and travel related questions in the Scottish Household Survey (including the travel diary). In 2017, the survey and diary had around 9,800 respondents. TTS also uses data from a range of other sources.

Walking and cycling statistics, England, DfT (WCS): a collection of statistics based on the Active Lives Survey (ALS), National Travel Survey (see above), and others. ALS is administered by Sport England, and the sample size is around 199,000 adults aged 16 and over in England, thus enabling analysis at local authority level (the minimum annual sample for each authority is 500, except for the City of London and Isles of Scilly). This statistical release was previously based on Sport England's Active People Survey (APS), first published in 2012. The ALS and APS are differently designed, meaning that results from earlier and later years are not comparable.

Further reading
  • For more detailed data and background information not only on the topics above, but also on a wide range of others - from health, road safety and criminal justice, to cycle-commuting and rights of way (and much more) - see our campaigns briefings
  • See our Ten Common Questions’ for a refutation of common anti-cycling messages.

Information for journalists

If you would like more information or an interview about cycling, contact Cycling UK's press office on 01483-238 315 or 07786-320713.

This page was last updated in November 2018 by Cherry Allan.

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