Previous record set when Queen Victoria sat on the throne

Cycling is more popular now than at any time since its ‘Golden Age’ in the late 19th century, according to the CTC.

The UK’s national cyclists’ organisation has just surpassed its membership record set in 1899 – just after the invention of the pneumatic tyre and before cars appeared in great numbers. Then, 60,449 cyclists flocked to join. Today, the figure stands at 60,776 and rising.

The organisation claims that the figures are a barometer of cycling’s popularity in the UK. Membership peaked in 1950, when austerity was at its height. But when people became wealthier and cars more fashionable a 20-year decline set in that only showed signs of recovery in the 1980s.

CTC Director Kevin Mayne said: “In 1899 cycling was the fashion of the day, supported by the aristocracy, the professional classes and those who set the mood of the day. Yet within just 10 years, many of those same people had switched to cars and CTC only just survived as a cycling organisation.

“I am delighted we have reached the highest membership in our history. Membership helps make CTC unique and gives us our independent and democratic voice as we are 60,000 people united by a passion for cycling.

“It also makes us a community, a club and, even at times a safe haven, for all types of cyclists. ‘Safety in Numbers’ has real meaning in CTC.”

Last year, the CTC predicted that the credit crunch and the high cost of fuel would get more people out of their cars and on to cycles, and it seems they have been proved right. The organisation’s membership is up to a new high and, according to figures out last week from Transport for London, cycling levels in the capital have increased by 16 per cent in a year.