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Slight decline in number of cyclists according to latest government figures

Drop in cycling participation among women despite record level of sporting activity

The Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) latest figures reveal a slight decline in the number of people cycling. 14.7 per cent of adults in England cycled at least once a month in 2014-15, the same as in 2012-13, but down from 15 per cent in 2013-14.

The overall picture appears to be one of stagnation. Transport Statistics Great Britain 2016 reveals that cycling accounted for two per cent of trips in England in 2015 and one per cent of distance travelled.

Many of the figures are based on the Active People Survey, the annual Sport England telephone survey, and this highlights how cycling rates vary greatly between authorities.

At one end of the scale are Cambridge and Oxford where 58 per cent and 43 per cent of people cycle at least once a month. At the other end, only five per cent of people in Burnley ride that often.

The DfT figures also reveal that 42 per cent of people in England aged five and over owned bicycles in the period 2013–2015. Those in their sixties are least likely to own a bike, followed by twentysomethings.

One per cent of trips to and from school are cycled by 5-to-10-year-olds and this rises to just two per cent among 11-to-16-year-olds. By way of contrast, 48 per cent of 5-to-10-year-olds travel to school by car, as do 26 per cent of 11-to-16-year-olds.

The Active People Survey also indicated that despite the number of women who are regularly active being at a record level, cycling participation is down by four per cent compared to a year before. While gymnastics, boxing, and football saw an increase, cycling saw a drop in participation of around 85,200.

David Murray, Cycling UK’s head of communications and campaigns, told BikeBiz:

"More women than men think it is too dangerous to cycle, but that danger is more perceived than real. Cycling UK works to tackle that perception by improving cycling conditions so that people of all ages, genders, backgrounds and abilities can cycle safely and confidently. We help provide training so that women and others can gain skill and confidence cycling, while also campaigning for better cycling infrastructure. Providing the right space for cycling has proved the biggest antidote to perceived risk, particularly for female cyclists, the young and the old.

“We hope this work across the UK will see a rise in the number of women aged under 25 taking up and continuing cycling and arrest the decline shown in the Sport England statistics.”

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