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Bicycles become most popular mode of transport on City of London roads

It is also the only way of getting around the Square Mile that has recovered to pre-pandemic levels according to new report

Bicycles have become the most popular way of travelling on the City of London’s roads, overtaking cars/PHVs (private hire vehicles) for the first time in 2022 – and are the only way of getting around the Square Mile that has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The figures are contained in a report from the Environment Department of the City of London Corporation, ahead of a meeting next week of the Transportation & Planning Committee and a separate meeting, next month, of its Court of Common Council, the prime decision-making body of the capital’s historic financial district.

Highlighted by the Twitter user @lastnotlost, whose account is locked, the report said that there had been “relatively little change in the overall composition of vehicular traffic between 2019 and 2022, with the exception of motorcycles.”

It said that in 2019, cars/PHVS – which are counted as a single group, because the vehicles cannot be distinguished in standard traffic counts – constituted 27 per cent of all traffic on the financial district’s streets, more than any other mode of transport.

Last year, however, data from the same 30 traffic points used in 2019 showed that it was cycles that topped the list, with 27 per cent modal share during the daytime, and making up a whopping 40 per cent of traffic during the morning and evening peaks.

Cycles had already been highlighted in 2019 as the most popular mode of transport on the City’s roads during rush hour in 2019, but the 2022 traffic counts – conducted, as the previous ones were, in the autumn of each year – represent the first time they have achieved the number-one spot throughout the day, and not just at peak times.

In the most recent traffic count survey, undertaken on 23 November last year and including both local and through traffic, all-day motor vehicle volumes were running at around 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while all-day cycling volumes were at 102 per cent of those observed in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of pedestrians stood at 63 per cent of the 2019 levels, although the report acknowledged that walking remains “by far the main way that people travel on the City’s streets,” with their number particularly high during peak times.

The impact of the pandemic, which led many employers within the financial district to encourage people to work from home at least part of the time, is also clearly shown in a table contained within the report which shows how various modes of travel in 2022 compare to the numbers observed in 2019 – with only cycling showing growth.

City report Table 1

Why cycling alone has bucked that trend is unclear – although reasons behind it may include the reduced levels of motor traffic plus improvements in infrastructure prompting more people to ride, some of whom may have bought a bike for the first time during the pandemic and realised how cheap and convenient it is compared to public transport, as well as wider availability of hire bikes, including e-bikes, to replace walking for the final part of a journey from a railway terminal to the workplace.

In recent years, the City of London Corporation has sought to make its streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, the latter in acknowledgment of the vast numbers of people walking from public transport hubs to their place of work, or popping out for something to eat at lunchtime.

In its most high-profile intervention aimed at protecting vulnerable road users, a d which also ties in with the goals of its Climate Action Plan, in 2017 the Corporation launched an experimental scheme, later made permanent, to exclude all vehicles, other than cycles and buses, from Bank Junction and the surrounding streets.

> Road casualties halved at London's Bank Junction since traffic other than buses and bicycles banned

The report also said that “long term trends observed from count data taken from 12 sites across the City since 1999 show motor vehicle volumes continuing to decline and cycle volumes continuing to increase.”

It added that “motor vehicle volumes have fallen by 64 per cent since 1999 while cycle volumes have increased by 386 per cent.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago

Who'd have thought it.

CYCLISTS WILL inherit the earth...

pockstone replied to Fignon's ghost | 1 year ago

It is easier for an Ellis Briggs tourer with low rider panniers and a Camper longflap on the saddle to pass through the eye of a needle...

chrisonabike replied to pockstone | 1 year ago

You can have no greater love than to lay down your bike car for your friends. (In the Recumbent Bible this reads "...lay down *on* your bike for your friends - and for your own comfort and aero gains.")

Shreds | 1 year ago

Twelve years ago, riding around central London was a novelty and people stopped and asked to see the Brompton fold and they were rightly fearful of traffic. (Which moves very slowly in Central London anyway). 

Last year I was riding in Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Whitechapel plus Wandsworth and now I am finding virtually everyone is on two wheels. Even Waitrose deliveries and mothers with children. 

The World has changed and the only question now is how long it will take to distill such actions across the whole of the Capital and indeed the Country generally? 

Adam Sutton replied to Shreds | 1 year ago

I have worked on London for twenty years, back when I started I would have never dreamed of cycling London. Now I prefer it to the tube.

It's just a shame I'm now in my forties rather than my twenties, so it's a bit more of a struggle 😂

Hirsute replied to Adam Sutton | 1 year ago

This is from 5 years ago


versus (as was)


The writer put :

"Anyone else remember when cycling over Blackfriars Bridge used to be this dreadful? I'm feeling really old! (vs what it looks like now!)"

Only I can remember going that way to liverpool st many a time and there was no cycle lane at all !

Adam Sutton replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago

Just in the last year since I got the Brompton and started cycling back from Chiswick it's got better, especially the Hammersmith gyratory. Hence it's a lot nicer and just as quick to cycle back to Charing Cross, than use the district line.

OldRidgeback replied to Shreds | 1 year ago

Hmm, I've been commuting by bicycle in London for 30+ years. When my old route took me across Chelsea bridge heading north in the morning and south in the evening, I certainly wasn't the only one. But I'm glad that London is more cycle friendly. 

thereverent | 1 year ago

The drop off in car use for workers in the City of London (whcih was never big) has been steadily reducing. New offices don;t have car parking and the older ones (like the one I work in), have very few cars for the number of spaces.

The City having stopped Bank junction being a through route will have helped.

Clem Fandango | 1 year ago

It's ours! all ours!

See - the roads do belong to us!!  

The Evil Cycling Lobby meeting is going to be a right p!ss up this week.

KDee replied to Clem Fandango | 1 year ago

Shouldn't there be an evil "Mwaahahahhaa" in there?

But in all seriousness, this is fantastic news!

JustTryingToGet... replied to KDee | 1 year ago
KDee wrote:

Shouldn't there be an evil "Mwaahahahhaa" in there?

But in all seriousness, this is fantastic news!

If you're cycling in London without an evil muhahahahaha, then you're doing it wrong 😉

ktache | 1 year ago


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