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Research shows cycle commuters four times more likely to achieve public health exercise targets than non-cyclists, demonstrating health benefits of infrastructure

London cyclists are six times fitter than other commuters, according to research published by Brunel University.

The report, by public health researcher Glenn Stewart in the Journal of Public Health, analysed the English Active People Survey, to compare weekly activity of those who used their bike as transport against those who didn’t.

It found those who commute by bike are four times more likely to meet the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week than those who don’t cycle, and are six times fitter than commuters who take the bus, train or car. Stewart says this provides strong evidence for investing in cycling as transport.

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“I am surprised by the size of the effect rather than the effect itself,” he said.

“People are often put off by the thought of being active for 150 mins a week but if this is made part of getting around, it almost becomes hard not to meet guidelines. Cycling 15 mins to and from work 5 days a week would mean 150 mins a week without even trying."

“Given that the effect size rises in central London - where there have been investments in cycle infrastructure - promoting cycling as a means of transport has enormous potential for public health decision makers as a way of getting people fitter in the UK”.

Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner at London Cycling Campaign, told Brunel: “We already know from the Department of Transport that spending on cycling infrastructure offers much better value for money than most transport infrastructure projects. This study also confirms that ‘utility’ cycling, as a simple transport option even for short journeys, can help people rapidly reach their recommended physical activity levels. The key to getting more people to cycle such journeys is, though, safe space for cycling”.

The Active People Survey is a large telephone survey of sport and “active recreation” in England carried out by Sport England.