How many people cycle to work?

There are 762,300 people who cycle to work in England & Wales according to the last Census, an increase of +17% on the previous results. London has the highest growth at +109%, equating to 4.3% of total commuters. Overall, cycle commuters account for 3.0% of all that commute to work.

In Part I of our Travel to Work Report 2013 we looked at overall travel to work habits in the UK and how this has evolved in recent years. Highlights from this first report include;

  • The number who travel to work in England and Wales has surpassed 25 million for the first time.
  • This is a staggering 12,000 million commutes per year.
  • The rise in Commuters (+17%) is greater than the rise in the population (+7%).
  • The proportion of the population who travel to work has increased to 44.7% (2001: 41.0%).
  • London: There are +25% more commuters in London than 10 years ago.

In Part II of our Report, we looked at Travel to Work by Method and how UK cycling commuters compared to other methods of transport. Highlights from this second report include;

  • The number who drive to work has exceeded 15 million for the first time.
  • This equates to 7,325 million car commutes per year.
  • Car Passenger numbers continue to decline and are now almost half the ratio of 1981
  • Most popular method of travel to work, after cars, is On Foot (+20% growth)
  • Congestion Charge helps to slow growth in Car Drivers to just +1% in London (England: +16%)
  • London Bike Scheme helps to grow Bicycle commuters by +109% (162,000) since 2001

In Part III of this report, we focus on what we love most, Cycling.

Travel to Work by Bicycle

So far, we have established that the number of people who travel to work in England and Wales is in excess of 25 million. Not only is that the highest ever level but it is also growing at a faster rate than the increase in population. Additionally, a greater proportion than ever of the population (44.7%) travel to work.

As Cyclists who commute, we compete with other road users, such as buses, taxis, lorries, vans and of course cars. The number of cars available to UK households has increased to 27.3 million, of which, 15 million are used daily to travel to work on 7,325 million journeys.

It is with this backdrop that we take a look at the people who, against all the challenges they face, travel to work on a bicycle.

Report Highlights

  • Commuting by Bicycle has increased by +17% over the past decade, to 762,000
  • Cycle Commuters account for 3.0% (2001: 3.0%) of total commuters
  • London has the highest 10 yr growth at +109%
  • The proportion of Cycle Commuters in London (4.3%) is the highest region

2011 2001 1991* 1981*
England and Wales 762,300 651,000 667,400 800,800
England 742,700 634,600 652,000 785,000
Wales 19,700 16,400 15,400 15,800
North East 20,400 16,800 15,300 20,300
North West 70,600 66,000 72,600 87,100
Yorkshire 62,100 63,400 69,400 76,900
East Midlands 59,000 62,600 66,400 78,200
West Midlands 50,400 52,500 55,300 71,200
East England 100,700 100,200 113,800 142,200
London 161,700 77,300 57,800 73,100
South East 127,600 119,300 126,700 155,900
South West 90,300 76,400 74,700 80,000

The number of cyclists who travel to work by bicycle has increased by +17% over the past ten years. The 30 year change is an overall decline, although Wales, North East, London and South West Regions have all seen an increase.

London cycling commuters more than doubled (+109%) over the past ten years, at a time when car driver numbers increased by just +1% (England Average: +16%) and the ratio using Public Transport reached record levels; at more than half of all commuters for the first time (52.6%). Our recent article on Cycle Commuters in London goes into this in greater depth. It is perhaps only when we see the London results alongside other regions that we truly see the magnitude of their results against others.

Cycle Commuters Ratio

Cycle Commuters Performance Tables

Top 10 Cycle Commuters by County Bottom 10 Cycle Commuters by County
1. Cambridgeshire 30,500 1. Northumberland 2,100
2. Greater Manchester 25,800 2. County Durham 2,200
3. Oxfordshire 23,800 3. Herefordshire 3,300
4. Hampshire 21,200 4. Buckinghamshire 3,500
5. West Midlands 19,400 5. Cornwall 3,900
6. Norfolk 17,800 6. Shropshire 4,500
7. Essex 14,200 7. Dorset 5,500
8. Suffolk 14,000 8. Derbyshire 5,600
9. Lincolnshire 13,500 9. Worcestershire 5,800
10. Surrey 12,800 10. Cumbria 6,100

Top 10 Cycle Commuters by Town Bottom 10 Cycle Commuters by Town
1. Cambridge 17,800 1. Merthyr Tydfil 80
2. Hackney 17,300 2. Blaenau Gwent 134
3. Bristol 16,200 3. Isles of Scilly 209
4. Lambeth 13,500 4. Rossendale 241
5. Wandsworth 13,300 5. City of London 252
6. Oxford 12,300 6. Bolsover 281
7. York 11,300 7. West Devon 282
8. Southwark 10,900 8. Torfaen 330
9. Islington 10,200 9. NE Derbyshire 332
10. Hull 9,100 10. Brentwood 337

Cycle Commuters vs Motorbike Commuters

Cycle Commuters Motorbike Commuters
  Numbers Ratio % Change Numbers Ratio % Change
England and Wales 762,300 3.0% +17% 214,200 0.9% -17%
England 742,700 3.1% +17% 206,600 0.9% -17%
Wales 19,700 1.5% +20% 7,700 0.6% -13%
North East 20,400 1.8% +21% 5,100 0.5% -27%
North West 70,600 2.3% +7% 20,000 0.6% -25%
Yorkshire 62,100 2.7% -2% 16,200 0.7% -22%
East Midlands 59,000 2.9% -6% 15,600 0.8% -22%
West Midlands 50,400 2.1% -4% 16,400 0.7% -21%
East England 100,700 3.7% +0.5% 22,500 0.8% -21%
London 161,700 4.3% +109% 46,000 1.2% -2.5%
South East 127,600 3.2% +7% 36,500 0.9% -17%
South West 90,300 3.8% +18% 28,500 1.2% -18%

Note: Numbers refers to the total number of people who travel to work by that method. Ratio refers to the number of people as a percentage of the total number of people who commute (for all methods). % Change is the ten year change (2011 v 2001).


Notes

The report uses data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as provided by the Nomis website and where available will show data by Region, Area and Local Authority, all of which are defined on the Nomis website (www.nomisweb.co.uk). Data is released in stages by the ONS and as such, we have had to focus on England and Wales for this report. We do not wish to alienate the good people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK but we don’t have data for those areas. We will of course update the report once available. Whilst data is available from 1991 and 1981, it is based on a 10 percent sample size. To enable comparisons to be made with data from 2011 and 2001, we have simply multiplied the data from the earlier years by a factor of ten. This gives a guide and is clearly not scientifically robust.

The source data is attached to this report (at the bottom of the page) for readers to download but no liability can be accepted for those that do so. We would also ask that you respect the Intellect Property and Copyright of the Bikes.org.uk website, it’s Parent Company and that of the Office for National Statistics and ultimately that of the Crown.

Data Source: 2011 Census data from Nomis
Copyright: Office for National Statistics © Crown Copyright 2013

Data Source: 2011 Census: Quick Statistics for local authorities in England and Wales
Copyright: Office for National Statistics © Crown Copyright 2013


Travel to Work by Bike Report 2013

Article on commuting to work by bicycle.

An in-depth look at commuters who travel to work by bicycle from author Mark Taylor on September 28, 2013

In this report, we take a look at UK Cycling habits with regard to commuting and how this compares to other forms of transport and how this has changed in recent years.

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