British Cycling has welcomed the findings of this year’s Active People Survey from Sport England, which shows 100,000 more of the nation’s adults are cycling at least once a week than a year ago.
Almost one in 20 adults – or 1.88 million people – now get on their bikes at least once a week, and those figures exclude cycling for travel purposes. The growth in the number of adults taking to their bikes means that British Cycling is only 12,000 short of achieving its target getting 125,000 more people cycling by 2013, three years ahead of schedule.
The survey, which tracks levels of participation in sport as governing bodies seek to meet growth targets set for 2012/13 to leave a lasting legacy from the London Olympics, also found that individual sports are growing faster than team ones. Besides cycling, athletics, boxing, table tennis, canoeing, lawn tennis and netball are also performing ahead of target.
Ian Drake, CEO of British Cycling, attributed growth in the number of cyclists to the success that Britain’s cyclists have achieved on the road and the track, saying: “Our vision to inspire participation in cycling through achieving worldwide success is clearly working as our athletes continue delivering impressive performances and establishing themselves as sporting role models.
“Our success in the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games has prompted a new wave of interest in cycling and we expect it to continue growing as we look ahead to London 2012 and as Team Sky competes at the top level of international road racing from 2010. “
British Cycling has sought to use that success to promote cycling as a leisure activity, and according to Drake, that approach is reaping rewards: “Earlier this year we launched a major intervention, with the backing of Sport England and our principal partner British Sky Broadcasting, aimed at harnessing our elite success to deliver grassroots results and today’s figures show we are succeeding in getting more people on their bikes.
“The Skyride initiative of mass participation cycling events across Britain’s major cities, fronted by British Cycling athletes, attracted over 100,000 participants throughout the summer 2009 and we look forward to building on the success of the programme in the years to come.
“Critical to our success in 2009 has been our whole sport approach and the unique alignment of public and private sector funding and expertise which has enabled us to be effective and efficient in what we do.”
Drake acknowledges that the challenge now is to build upon the results already achieved to ensure that cycling benefits from a lasting legacy after 2012, saying: “Together with UK Sport, Sport England and British Sky Broadcasting, our principal partner, we are working towards one vision for cycling – to deliver the single biggest sporting and physical activity legacy of London 2012.”
“We will continue to evolve, develop and expand our programmes in 2010 to ensure we maximise the return on investment for our key partners and be the first sport to replicate its high level of elite success in terms of wider participation,” he added.
“I am confident that, with the continued backing of our partners, we will further broaden the appeal of cycling over the next three years and make our sport an elite and grassroots success story."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.