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The average cyclist? Male, in his 40s, rides six times a week and 1,000 miles a year

Department for Transport releases its Cycling & Walking statistics for 2019 – the last edition before a coronavirus-led change?

The average cyclist in England is a fortysomething man who rides his bike six times a week and covers 1,000 miles a year, according to government statistics released today.

The Walking & Cycling Statistics, England: 2019 statistical release from the Department for Transport (DfT) also found that “the average number of miles cycled has generally increased over time, but the number of cycling stages [ie individual trips by bike] has remained flat over the same period.”

The data is drawn from the National Travel Survey, also published today and which covers the 2019 calendar year and is based on interviews with household members and a one week travel diary, and the Active Lives Survey, the latest edition of which covers the 12 months from mid-November 2018 to mid-November 2019.

Next year’s statistics, of course, are certain to paint a very different picture with the huge growth in cycling during lockdown which, while it may have died down somewhat as restrictions have been eased, will leave a legacy of more people cycling whether for exercise or daily journeys, especially if they are given safe infrastructure to encourage them to get in the saddle.

Of course, it’s far too early to say with confidence whether the snippets below truly represent a snapshot of how cycling in England was “before” the pandemic – though we’d hope that the 2020 figures will show some meaningful and positive change.

Back to 2019, and in England as a whole, 11 per cent of the adult population cycled once a week, although in a handful of local authority areas – 4 per cent of the total – 20 per cent or more adults did so.

As ever, Cambridge at 55.2 per cent followed by Oxford with 39.6 per cent led the way. Richmond-upon-Thames, meanwhile, remains the London borough with the highest proportion of adults riding their bikes at least once a week, on 26.8 per cent.

The lowest levels of cycling at least once a week were seen in Barking & Dagenham at just 3.5 per cent, one of three London boroughs in the bottom five, the others being Havering and Croydon, with Oldham and Dudley rounding off that list.

By age and gender, the highest proportion of once-a-week cyclists was found in males aged 17-20 – females in the same age group, by contrast, had the lowest levels of all bar women aged 70+.

Across both genders, the highest levels of cycling once a week or more was seen among the 40-49 age groups – though interestingly, while among men there was a steady rise through their 20s and 30s to hit that, participation levels among women were similar irrespective of whether they fell into the 21-29, 30-39 or 40-49 age groups.

We’ll have more detailed analysis of the statistics in the coming days here on road.cc.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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