Cycling boosted London’s economy by more than £1.3 billion last year, according to a new report commissioned by the Bicycle Association, which says that the capital achieving its net zero carbon target by 2030 would see the so-called ‘bicycle economy’ bring in £5 billion a year and create 25,000 new jobs.
The report, compiled by the independent research group Transport for Quality of Life, aims to highlight the benefits of cycling – whether economic, environmental or job-related – to leaders and decision-makers across the capital.
It points out that 4.7 million car journeys in London could be carried out by bike, and that half of those are no more than 3km in distance and describes achieving cycling modal share of 14 per cent – a level that 80 cities around the world have already reached or surpassed.
Reaching that share would add 25,000 jobs to the 8,000 that already exist in London’s bicycle economy, whether that be in retail, logistics, manufacturing or tourism.
It adds that last year – when cycling boomed due to the impact of lockdown – cycling was worth between £1.3 billion and £1.4 billion to London’s economy, and during the 12 months helped prevent around 270 premature deaths and almost 1,900 serious illnesses, as well as approximately 216 million vehicle kilometres, plus thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.
Simon Irons, the Bicycle Association’s Market Data Service Director, said: “By 2030 it’s not just the positive environmental benefit of net zero which will be dramatic – but the economic benefit too.
“Our market data is probably the best of any cycling market in the world – tracking nearly a million cycling products and services every month. We’ve used this data to help forecast how big the bicycle economy would be when London becomes a zero carbon city.
“We want to share this information with Londoners to show just how economically valuable cycling is. Then, with the support of the industry’s Investors in Cycling, we want to do the same for every region of England and the devolved nations.”
Dr Ashok Sinha, Chief Executive of the London Cycling Campaign, which partnered with the Bicycle Association on the report, commented: “London is showing strong leadership by targeting net zero carbon status by 2030.
“A large-scale shift to cycling from private car use is essential to achieving this. This must-read research shows that investing in high quality cycling infrastructure will not only enable this shift, but generate a huge number of new, green, career opportunities, especially for the most disadvantaged Londoners.
“It will also help create new business opportunities that will help revitalise London’s hard hit high streets,” he added.
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.