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UK universities ranked on cycling – who came out on top?

Institutions were ranked on factors including provision of secure parking and accessibility of local bike shops, with points deducted for theft rates and air pollution

The University of Edinburgh has been ranked the top university in the UK for cycling, according to research from the student accommodation search engine,, with the University of Bristol, in second place, and University of Glasgow, third, completing the podium.

A list of the top 25 higher education institutions ranked them on factors including cycling resources such as bike storage and pro-cycling initiatives, the availability of local bike shops and resources for novice cyclists, with points deducted for the prevalence of bike theft and air pollution.

The ranking comes ahead of a new academic year in which more students than ever are expected to shun public transport and use bikes instead not just because of cost and convenience, but also the coronavirus pandemic.

The University of Edinburgh’s top spot was achieved through initiatives including discounts in local bike shops, a Bike Buddies system to help new or inexperienced cyclists, bike maintenance courses and the provision of Dr Bike sessions.

Cambridge, perhaps surprisingly given its status as the UK’s leading city for cycling in terms of the proportion of the population who ride – many of whom study or work at its universities – came in sixth, partly dragged down by high rates of bike theft.

Dan Roberts, managing director and founder of, said: “While the national lockdown proved to be a golden age for cycling, the research highlights that many universities could be doing more to cater to the ever growing student cycling community.

“With many students returning to their studies with a new “blended” style of learning and continued anxiety surrounding the pandemic, cycling is one great way to support student wellbeing and encourage social distancing when travelling from halls to lectures.

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“No doubt that universities will be investing into more ways to support students in jumping on their bikes.”

Here is the ranking of the top 25 universities.

1 – University of Edinburgh
2 – University of Bristol
3 – University of Glasgow
4 – University of Manchester
5 – University of Nottingham
6 – University of Cambridge
7 – University of Warwick
8 – University of Southampton
9 – University of Birmingham
10 – University of Oxford
11 – University of Exeter
12 – University of Sheffield
13 – University of Sussex
14 – Lancaster University
15 – King’s College London
16 – Imperial College London
17 – University of York
18 – UCL
19 – Durham University
20 – London School of Economics and Political Science
21 – Queen Mary University of London
22 – University of Leicester
23 – University of Aberdeen
24 – University of Leeds
25 – University of Liverpool

How did the company arrive at the rankings? Well, points were awarded based on the following factors:

Number of pro-cycling campaigns and initiatives listed on University and SU websites
Accessibility and number of bike storage/cycle parking facilities as listed on university websites
Number of clubs and societies for cycling listed on SU websites
Number of nearby bike/bike repair shops within 3 miles
Cycling resources and information listed on universities’ own online channels- graded out of 10 for comprehensiveness and accessibility. This includes info on hiring schemes, bike shops, local laws, etiquette, road signs, locks, and further resources.

Points were deducted for:

Rates of bike thefts and bike crime in the last 12 months (or most relevant data set available)
Air pollution rates of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) pollution from DEFRA, with points deducted for higher rates.

Simon has been news editor at 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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