In our recent Travel to Work Reports we have seen some quite remarkable trends in the London Region.

  • There are +25% more commuters in London than 10 years ago.
  • There are more people who travel to work in London and the South East (7.8m) as in the entire Regions of the North East, Yorkshire and North West combined (6.5m).
  • Car Driver numbers increased by just +1% compared to the average for England (+16%).
  • The ratio using Public Transport surpassed half the total number of commuters for the first time.

In this report, we focus on cyclists who travel to work by bike in London, and which itself produces some impressive findings.

  • Cycling commuters more than doubled (+109%) over the past decade.
  • Cycle commuters in Hackney and Islington outnumber Car Drivers.
  • London (4.3%) has the highest ratio of cycle commuters in England (3.1%).
  • Three Boroughs triple the number of cycle commuters; Tower Hamlets, Hackney & City of London.
  • Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy is working; Car Drivers held at 2001 levels, Cycle commuters doubled, Public Transport users more than half of all commuters.

By far the fastest growing method of getting to work in London is on a Bicycle which has seen numbers more than double over the past decade (+109%). Introduced in 2011, the Mayor of London (Boris Johnson) established the London Bike Hire Scheme, sponsored by Barclays but soon dubbed Boris Bikes. The scheme saw instant success but perhaps no one envisaged growth rates on this scale.

Travel to Work by Bike in London

The growth in Cycle Commuters in London over the past ten years is quite remarkable, an increase of +109%. What’s more, 14 of the 33 London Boroughs have doubled the number of people who cycle to work. This is quite breathtaking performance, and a quick glance at the top 10 % change list (see table below) will impress further, with three Boroughs having more than tripled their numbers since 2001; Tower Hamlets (+267%), Hackney (+250%), City of London (+245%).

There are in fact just a handful of Boroughs with a performance less than the national average, and just one district with a decline in numbers; Hillingdon (-4%), Barking & Dagenham (+6%), Harrow (+6%), Sutton (+7%), Havering (+12%). All of these are in Outer London and as such are not directly part of the London Bike Hire Scheme.

The London Boroughs of Hackney and Lambeth should receive special attention as the number of commuters who cycle to work is the highest in the London Region. Hackney have 17,300 cyclists and Lambeth 13,450, a combined total (30,750) which is greater than the whole of the Greater Manchester (25,800) area. Hackney alone has more than Lancashire (11,600), Merseyside (11,700) or Kent (12,000) and is almost as high as Cambridge (17,750), which is well-known for it’s strong cycling heritage.

The recent growth in cycle commuters (+250%) in the Hackney Borough has helped to make cycling to work more popular than driving a car, a feat equaled only by the Borough of Islington. Car Drivers total 13,400 in Hackney, whereas cyclists total 17,300. In Islington the numbers are 9,800 (cars) and 10,200 (bicycles). These cycle numbers have helped to make the ratio of cycle commuters the highest in London (see table), and second only to Cambridge (31.9%), Oxford (18.7%) and the Isles of Scilly (18.4%), although the latter has just 209 cycle commuters.

Top 10 % ChangeTop 10 NumbersTop 10 % Total
  1. Tower Hamlets +267%
  2. Hackney +250%
  3. City of London +245%
  4. Southwark +175%
  5. Islington +171%
  6. Haringey +157%
  7. Lewisham +173%
  8. Lambeth +149%
  9. Wandsworth +141%
  10. Westminster +115%
  1. Hackney 17,300
  2. Lambeth 13,500
  3. Wandsworth 13,300
  4. Southwark 10,900
  5. Islington 10,200
  6. Tower Hamlets 8,100
  7. Hammersmith 7,400
  8. Camden 7,100
  9. Haringey 6,200
  10. Lewisham 5,400
  1. Hackney 15.4%
  2. Islington 10.1%
  3. Lambeth 8.5%
  4. Hammersmith 7.9%
  5. Wandsworth 7.9%
  6. Southwark 7.7%
  7. Camden 7.1%
  8. Richmond upon Thames 6.7%
  9. City of London 5.8%
  10. Kensington & Chelsea 5.4%

A map of the top ten most popular cycling commuter boroughs in London can be viewed on Google Maps.

Inner London% Change% TotalOuter London% Change% Total
Camden+110%7.1%Barking and Dagenham+6%1.5%
City of London+245%5.8%Barnet+83%1.6%
Hammersmith and Fulham+88%7.9%Brent+100%2.7%
Kensington and Chelsea+86%5.4%Ealing+57%3.1%
Tower Hamlets+267%7.0%Hillingdon-4%1.5%
Westminster+115%5.3%Kingston upon Thames+44%4.4%
Total Inner London+155%7.2%Merton+59%3.5%
   Richmond upon Thames+74%6.7%
   Waltham Forest+101%2.9%
   Total Outer London+50%2.3%

Note: % Change represents the difference in the number of people who travel to work by bike, as per the 2011 Census, against the number in the 2001 Census. % Total represents the number of people who travel to work by bicycle as a percentage of the total number of people who travel to work (excludes people who work from home, are unemployed, retired or not looking for work).

A copy of the full statistics are available in either of our Travel to Work Reports 2013 or via the Office for National Statistics.

Travel to Work in London

The following chart shows the number of people who travel to work by method in the London Region, the ten year change and the ratio for each method represented as a percentage of the total number of people who travel to work

London Region
Number% Change% total
Car Driver1,120,000+1%29.5%
Car Passenger70,000-17%1.8%
On Foot353,000+26%9.3%

The London region has the second largest number of commuters in England, the region with the highest number being the South East. There are 3.8m people who travel to work, an increase of +25% in the past ten years, making London the highest growing region.

London has the highest ratio of commuters to population in England. However, this has not always been the case. In 2001, London was fifth of the ten regions in England and Wales.

The most popular method of travel to work in London is as a Car Driver with 1.1m (29.5%) of the total 3.8m commuters. However, the combined number who use Public Transport (Underground, Train, Bus) is over 2m (52.6%) making it the most popular method of getting to work in London.

In fact, this is the first time that Public Transport has seen more than half of the people who travel to work using these methods of commuting. This is something that no other region comes anywhere near to matching, the average for the whole of England and Wales is 17.9%, making London three times higher.

By far the fastest growing method of getting to work in London is on a Bicycle which has seen numbers more than double over the past decade (+109%).

In contrast, commuter Car Drivers have increased by just +1% since 2001. The London region compares sharply with the average for England (+16%). Some observers have pointed to the 2003 introduction of the London Congestion Charge, introduced by the then Mayor of London Ken Livingston, which may have contributed to the overall management of these growth rates.

So, does this equate to success for the combined Mayor of London’s transport strategy?

  1. Car Drivers held at 2001 levels
  2. Cycling commuters doubled
  3. Public Transport users more than half of all commuters

It would appear so. RT @MayorofLondon #welldone.

The following chart shows the ten year change (2011 vs 2001) on the number of cars available to households in England and Wales alongside the ten year change in the number of cars used to travel to work.

Travel to Work by Car in London

The number of people who drive a car to work in England and Wales has surpassed 15 million for the first time, and is a +17% increase on 2001. However, an ever increasing number of these car journeys are single occupancy with the percentage of Car Passengers to Car Drivers at it’s lowest ever level and at a ratio that is now almost half that of 1981.

In London, the growth was just +1% and the increase in the availability of cars marginally higher at +2%, compared to +14% for the whole of England and Wales. The ratio of Car Passengers to Car Drivers is the lowest of all the regions at 6.2% and is almost half the ratios in the North East.

Wales and the Eastern Regions of England have seen the highest growth rates over the past 10 years; Wales (+27%), North East (+25%), Yorkshire (+22%), East Midlands (+22%).

Wales has the greatest ratio of people commuting in a car, whether this be as a driver or a passenger. At 78.4% this is higher than any of the England Regions, which range from 75.6% (West Midlands) to just 31.3% (London).

The following table shows both the Top 10 and Bottom 10 Districts in England and Wales by number who travel to work by car.

Top 10 by DistrictBottom 10 by District
  1. Birmingham 235,000
  2. Leeds 201,000
  3. Sheffield 135,000
  4. Bradford 131,000
  5. Kirkless 126,000
  6. Wigan 104,000
  7. Wakefield 100,000
  8. Dudley 99,000
  9. Manchester 96,000
  10. Liverpool 96,000
  1. City of London 145
  2. West Somerset 8,400
  3. Islington 9,800
  4. Kensington & Chelsea 10,400
  5. Westminster 10,500
  6. Camden 10,900
  7. Hammersmith & Fulham 12,000
  8. Tower Hamlets 13,500
  9. Christchurch 13,600
  10. Purbeck 13,900

As you can see, London Districts feature prominently in the Bottom 10 and goes someway to highlight the fact that alternatives are being considered more than in other parts of England and Wales.

The London Region has more than 1.1m people who commute to work as a Car Driver, more than either Wales (0.9m) or the North East (0.7m). This splits unevenly between Inner London (225,000) and Outer London (895,000).

Overall, the number of Car Drivers over the past 10 years has hardly changed at just +1%, compared to the national average (+17%). There is, however, a noticeable difference between Inner London at -10% and Outer London at +4%.

The following table shows the percentage change in Car Drivers over the past decade. Few areas have any growth, Newham (+16%) and Tower Hamlets (+11%) in Inner London, Havering (+11%) and Redbridge (+10%) in Outer London. In fact, Newham & Tower Hamlets are the only districts in Inner London where the numbers have increased.

Some London Boroughs have seen quite large decreases in the number of people who travel to work by car; City of London (-45%), Camden (-22%), Islington (-21%), Hammersmith & Fulham (-20%), Kensington & Chelsea (-18%), Hackney (-17%), Lambeth (-17%).

Inner LondonOuter London
Camden-22%Barking and Dagenham+7%
City of London-45%Barnet+5%
Hammersmith and Fulham-20%Brent+3%
Kensington and Chelsea-18%Ealing-2%
Tower Hamlets+11%Hillingdon+6%
Westminster-11%Kingston upon Thames-2%
Total Inner London-10%Merton-8%
  Richmond upon Thames-7%
  Waltham Forest+7%
  Total Outer London+4%

Travel to Work by Public Transport in London

As you may have expected, the highest ratio of commuters who use Public Transport is in the London Region with more than half of all commuters (52.6%) using the Underground, Trains, Buses or Taxis to travel to work. This is the highest ever ratio the London region has seen for users of Public Transport, which now total two million following a +43% rise over the past 10 years.

In the previous section, we saw how the Eastern Regions of England had the highest growth rates for Car commutes, however, this contrasts sharply with the growth rates for Public Transport as these regions have the lowest increases for this method of commute; North East (+4%), Yorkshire (+3%), East Midlands (+9%).

The following chart shows the 10 year change in commuters using Public Transport for each region in England and Wales.

This next chart shows the ratio of Public Transport commuters as a percentage of the total number. As we have previously seen, the London region is by far the highest and is in sharp contrast to that of Wales (7.1%) and the South West (6.8%) region. Is this a reflection of the quality and availability of Public Transport in those regions or simply a reflection of the rural aspect of those regions?

We saw earlier that London has seen quite a significant growth rate in Public Transport usage as a method of travel to work, +43% over the past decade with more than half (52.6%) of all London commuters now using Public Transport (Underground, Train, Bus) to get to work.

Whilst the growth rates of the Inner London (+46%) boroughs are comparable to Outer London (+40%) boroughs, the proportion of commuters who choose this method of travel is quite different, Inner London districts average almost two-thirds of commuters (62.3%) whilst Outer London districts are less than half (45.9%). The Boroughs with the highest proportion of Public Transport users are; Lambeth (67.5%), Newham (67.1%), Wandsworth (64.9%), Haringey (65.0%), Lewisham (62.7%) and Southwark (62.7%), all of which have quite remarkable densities.

The Outer London boroughs may have lower user ratios but they do have five of the top ten districts when it comes to looking at growth rates (2011 vs 2001).

Top 10 User RatiosTop 10 % Change
  1. Lambeth 67.5%
  2. Newham 67.1%
  3. Haringey 65.0%
  4. Wandsworth 64.9%
  5. Lewisham 62.7%
  6. Southwark 62.7%
  7. Hammersmith & Fulham 61.2%
  8. Camden 60.5%
  9. Islington 59.9%
  10. Kensington & Chelsea 58.5%
  1. Newham +92%
  2. Tower Hamlets +78%
  3. Hounslow +66%
  4. Hackney +59%
  5. Greenwich +56%
  6. Southwark +56%
  7. Hillingdon +54%
  8. Harrow +51%
  9. Brent +50%
  10. Haringey +48%

This table details the ten year change (% Change) and the ratio of commuters (% Total) who use Public Transport to travel to work for each of the London Boroughs.

Inner London% Change% TotalOuter London% Change% Total
Camden+30%60.5%Barking and Dagenham+44%48.1%
City of London+13%34.1%Barnet+39%47.6%
Hammersmith and Fulham+33%61.2%Brent+50%56.7%
Kensington and Chelsea+17%58.5%Ealing+41%50.2%
Tower Hamlets+78%59.7%Hillingdon+54%31.0%
Westminster+37%57.6%Kingston upon Thames+33%39.4%
Total Inner London+46%62.3%Merton+32%56.1%
   Richmond upon Thames+31%44.2%
   Waltham Forest+45%56.5%
   Total Outer London+40%45.9%

Eco-Friendly Travel to Work

In this age of modern transportation, is it great to see that the most popular method of travel to work, after cars, is the simple eco-friendly mode of walking. There are close to 3 million of us who choose this method, an increase of +20% over the past 10 years, which is also one of the highest growth rates of any of the methods of travel to work. The other eco-friendly option is the Bicycle and it’s great to see that these numbers continue to rise, +17% since 2001.

You will see in the following chart that London has the highest growth rate in this sector, primarily due to a +109% increase in Bicycle commuters. Can the London Mayor claim success for this following the recent introduction of the so-called Boris Bikes?

The following chart shows the 10 year change in commuters using Eco-Friendly methods such as Bicycles or On Foot.

Travel to Work by London District

This table shows the total number of people who travel to work in each of the London Districts, split into Inner & Outer London Boroughs. Despite being the lower number of the two sub-regions, Inner London (1.55m) has more commuters than the whole of Wales (1.3m). Outer London (2.25m) on the other hand has almost as many as the whole of the Yorkshire region (2.3m), West Midlands (2.4m), South West (2.4m) and more than Wales (1.3m), North East (1.1m) or East Midlands (2.0m).

Inner LondonOuter London
Camden100,000Barking and Dagenham74,000
City of London4,000Barnet158,000
Hammersmith and Fulham94,000Brent141,000
Kensington and Chelsea73,000Ealing157,000
Tower Hamlets116,000Hillingdon125,000
Westminster102,000Kingston upon Thames77,000
Total Inner London1,547,000Merton100,000
  Richmond upon Thames90,000
  Waltham Forest117,000
  Total Outer London2,249,000

Top 10 Commuters by DistrictBottom 10 Commuters by District
  1. Wandsworth 169,000
  2. Croydon 165,000
  3. Lambeth 159,000
  4. Barnet 158,000
  5. Ealing 157,000
  6. Bromley 142,000
  7. Southwark 141,000
  8. Brent 141,000
  9. Enfield 132,000
  10. Lewisham 131,000
  1. City of London 4,000
  2. Kensington & Chelsea 73,000
  3. Barking & Dagenham 74,000
  4. Kingston upon Thames 77,000
  5. Richmond upon Thames 90,000
  6. Sutton 93,000
  7. Hammersmith & Fulham 94,000
  8. Merton 100,000
  9. Camden 100,000
  10. Islington 101,000

The Top 10 London districts with the highest number of commuters, can also be viewed on the following Google Map.

The following table shows the 10 year growth rates (2011 vs 2001) for each London Borough for the total number of people who travel to work. The overall average for the region is +25% but this is heavily influenced by the Inner London, which at +35% is almost double the Outer London increase of +19%.

Inner LondonOuter London
Camden+22%Barking and Dagenham+19%
City of London+12%Barnet+21%
Hammersmith and Fulham+24%Brent+31%
Kensington and Chelsea+11%Ealing+20%
Tower Hamlets+71%Hillingdon+17%
Westminster+28%Kingston upon Thames+13%
Total Inner London+35%Merton+15%
  Richmond upon Thames+14%
  Waltham Forest+28%
  Total Outer London+19%

The Districts with the fastest growth rates are all in Inner London; Tower Hamlets (+71%), Newham (+63%), Hackney (+55%), Southwark (+42%), Haringey (+34%). They can be seen in context on this Google Map.