Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Two million new cycle commuters about to take to the roads, says CycleScheme

People fed up with overcrowding and squalor of public transport apparently

Driven out of public transport by overcrowding and squalor, and out of cars by congestion, two million new cycle commuters are set to take to the roads this spring, and three times that number of new cyclists will be out on their bikes for the first time.

That’s the optimistic claim arising from new research by Cycle to Work provider Cyclescheme.co.uk.

Commuters are apparently fed up of the frustrations of public transport. Half of those surveyed admit to being frequently late for meetings due to public transport, and one in twenty say they have been pickpocketed on their way to work.

And then there’s the ick factor of cramming on to buses and trains. A quarter have had a passengers’ armpit in their face, whilst a third have smelt a stranger’s morning breath.

More seriously, surveys show as many as 30 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment on public transport, an experienced that’s especially distressing when its impossible to get away.

Cyclescheme says one in ten Brits plan to change their journey to work in some way this spring. Two million people plan to ‘spring clean their commute’ by cycling to work for the first time.

Spring is the best time to try a new activity, according to psychologist Dr Anjula Mutanda. Research shows three in four people plan to make a ‘spring resolution’ this year, rather than New Year’s.

Dr Mutanda said: “Spring signals nature’s new start and we aren’t immune from it. The physiological affect on mood as well as positive associations with spring as a time of renewal make us want to engage in something new.

“Spring is perfect for new goals like cycling to work, because there is greater synchronicity between our physical environment and our mindset.”

As administered by Cyclescheme and its partner organisations in the Cycle to Work Alliance, the Cycle to Work scheme provides a tax break of 25 to 42 percent for the purchase of a new bike and accessories.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

Add new comment

54 comments

Avatar
jollygoodvelo | 9 years ago
0 likes

No snobbery from me. Coincidentally, I had a chat with the future of cycling this morning in Hackney.

She wheeled her bike - a ~30 year old Mixte, with metal 'dork disc', and probably the original tyres and chain/gear oil - gingerly off the path and into the road. Directly onto the piece of tarmac where I was heading at ~30kph (on a slight downhill). I wafted out and around her and continued on my way. At the next lights I stopped in the ASZ; when she arrived she edged past me and stopped a good 2 metres ahead. Ho-hum, I thought. At least she stopped.

True enough, no blazing getaway was made when the lights went green. I followed her sedately for a hundred yards or so until there was space to pass, when it occurred to me that she - on her knackered old bike, in 'proper clothes', no lid, no lights and at barely above walking pace - is the future of cycling. It's not me in full Lycra, doing 20km each way at ~25kph on a shiny newish toy. It's 'normal' people, going about their day, using a bike because it's the best option. So at the next lights, I said hello. Gave her a few tips. Reminded her that she should stay at the stop line because turning vehicles swing across junctions and she should be careful about going up the inside of long and heavy vehicles. Finally, reminded her that it's not a race and sitting behind a couple of cars at lights if there's not space to pass is better than shoving through and then holding them up, and went about my way.

Be nice to newbies. You were one once.

Avatar
Pete B | 9 years ago
0 likes

I was just looking at the ONS 2011 Census Analysis - Cycling to Work that has just been released. In 2011 for England and Wales 741,000 people cycled to work, an increase of 90,000 in the ten years since the 2001 census.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census-analysis/cycling-to-wor...

Somehow I don’t think that an extra 2 million cycle commuters will be appearing on the roads in the next few weeks !

Avatar
Neil753 replied to Pete B | 9 years ago
0 likes
Pete B wrote:

I was just looking at the ONS 2011 Census Analysis - Cycling to Work that has just been released. In 2011 for England and Wales 741,000 people cycled to work, an increase of 90,000 in the ten years since the 2001 census.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census-analysis/cycling-to-wor...

Somehow I don’t think that an extra 2 million cycle commuters will be appearing on the roads in the next few weeks !

It's interesting that a behavioural impact analysis, published by the "Cycle to Work Alliance" in Feb 2011, reveals that over 400,000 cyclists "benefitted" from the scheme over roughly the same period.

Whatever the true figures, it's clear that many cyclists have abused the scheme whose purpose, as set out in the 1999 Finance Act, is to facilitate the "loan of bicycles and cycling safety equipment to employees as a tax exempt benefit for the purpose of cycling to work".

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... | 9 years ago
0 likes

Personally I'm not bothered about being some sort of virtuoso expert 'cyclist', I'm just a non-motorist who would like to see fewer cars on the road. A less-than-brilliant cyclist is far preferable to an average motorist as far as I'm concerned.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... | 9 years ago
0 likes

Ah bless!

All the newbies at snobbery trying out their best off-the-peg snob attitudes! I suspect they are all young (at least I hope they are).

Eventually they'll get the hang of looking down on people.

(Also, I was anti-elitist _before_ it was fashionable!)

Avatar
rich22222 | 9 years ago
0 likes

I have never once seen anyone use cycle scheme to start cycle commuting. From my experience the people using it either already commute by bike or want a nice cheap bike to put in the shed for the weekend.

Avatar
Wookie replied to rich22222 | 9 years ago
0 likes
rich22222 wrote:

I have never once seen anyone use cycle scheme to start cycle commuting. From my experience the people using it either already commute by bike or want a nice cheap bike to put in the shed for the weekend.

I did
And everybody has to start somewhere. I did not go out on weekend/Sunday rides. I simply started by riding to my nearest station and then every fortnight moved one station closer to my destination in the case Romford to London.
I now Commute up to 4 times per week in most weather conditions.
When I started commuting I was around 19 stone and I am still a fat git but a fat git with 3 Bikes now and always looking for the next one.

Avatar
IngloriousLou replied to rich22222 | 9 years ago
0 likes
rich22222 wrote:

I have never once seen anyone use cycle scheme to start cycle commuting. From my experience the people using it either already commute by bike or want a nice cheap bike to put in the shed for the weekend.

My first bike was bought on c2W.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo replied to rich22222 | 9 years ago
0 likes
rich22222 wrote:

I have never once seen anyone use cycle scheme to start cycle commuting. From my experience the people using it either already commute by bike or want a nice cheap bike to put in the shed for the weekend.

To quote Geri Halliwell: look at me.  1

CAAD8 bought on CTW. 1500 miles' commuting before its untimely demise.

Avatar
parksey | 9 years ago
0 likes

Equally surprised by some of the negative comments on here about both new cyclists and the cycle to work scheme itself.

We all had to start somewhere with our cycling, I even consider myself to still be something of a noob, having only picked it up again less than a year ago. Some of the comments do appear to be a little on the "elite" side, which can be something of a negative image associated with the sport...

As for the scheme itself, I don't think I've ever heard a single person complain about it being a waste of taxpayers' money, and I know some seriously left-wing people! As Sam Saunders points out, the few hundred quid subsidy can only be a good thing as against the net benefit to both the indvidual concerned and the population more generally arising from more people cycling.

And so what if people have the means to use it and do so to buy second/third/n+1 bikes, or bikes for family members? Whether the bike is used daily for commuting or by the wife once every few weekends in the summer months only, it's still getting/keeping people on bikes, and the more people that either cycle themselves, or know someone who cycles, the greater the likelihood that they'll be a more considerate driver around other cyclists.

I know this might come across as a "my helmet saved my life" type story, but thanks to the scheme I was able to buy myself a decent road bike which now has me out at least once over the weekend for a good two hours or more, in addition to my daily commute. My resulting enthusiasm for the sport has also got both my brother and my Dad involved too, who between them must have put around £2k into the LBS of recent months in buying bikes and gear. My Dad also now commutes to work on the bike too, so that's two people out of their cars for the price of one!

Avatar
Ush replied to parksey | 9 years ago
0 likes
parksey wrote:

Equally surprised by some of the negative comments on here about both new cyclists and the cycle to work scheme itself.

Great to read your post. Agree with all of its details and thank you for the positive tone.

Avatar
IanW1968 | 9 years ago
0 likes

@Sam Saunders good point well made.

@Neil753 are you paid by the Road Haulage Association for your work on here?

@NewCommuters, using a bike is a great choice for most journeys welcome.

Avatar
Argos74 | 9 years ago
0 likes

I've noticed an increase in new commuters on my morning ride. All good.

I figure best way to turn new commuters into old commuters is to help 'em out - taking the primary off their rear wheel at pinch points, narrow lanes and junction approaches. Claiming the ASL box, and clearing packed junctions of riders on the near side. Adds to the journey time, but see less close passes and left hooks.

Avatar
arfa | 9 years ago
0 likes

C'mon folks, we were all first timers once. One less car on the commute is a good thing and I genuinely take delight from increasing numbers of cyclists on the commute. As far as short distance urban planning is concerned, the bicycle is the future and the sooner it becomes pub chat to talk about what you rode into work rather than what you drove, the better.
A bit of genuine advice might not be a bad thing ? When it is framed in terms of an individual's safety, I have yet to have a tricky reaction.
Anyway, soon we will be at a point where it becomes harder to ignore and thereafter it only gets better.

Avatar
Cyclist | 9 years ago
0 likes

I really hope not  2 it's bad enough as it is with the born again cyclist commuting to work at 8mph... With their heads down and aldi lights! They are a danger to themselves and most of all to me! No more please.
Stick to Sunday mornings and get some road awareness first and fitness.

Avatar
brooksby replied to Cyclist | 9 years ago
0 likes
Cyclist wrote:

it's bad enough as it is with the born again cyclist commuting to work at 8mph... With their heads down and aldi lights! They are a danger to themselves and most of all to me! No more please.
Stick to Sunday mornings and get some road awareness first and fitness.

Who died and made you people the kings of Cyclandia?

Seriously - all the comments about "nodders" and "noobs" and "born again cyclist commuting to work at 8 mph"...?

So s...ing what? Every one of them is a cyclist, one of the people we're vaguely supposed to support. That 8mph commuter who goes into work every day on their bike? They do just as many miles as the lycra-clad weekender, training for his next sportive.

Newsflash - you become fit by riding. It seems a little self-defeating to start going around saying, "No - you will not ride a bike in public, on our roads until you can do the vehicular cyclist 25mph sprint and with a fixed upper body while doing it".

How about a little encouragement for the starters?

Avatar
Paul_C replied to brooksby | 9 years ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:

[...]
Who died and made you people the kings of Cyclandia?

Seriously - all the comments about "nodders" and "noobs" and "born again cyclist commuting to work at 8 mph"...?

So s...ing what? Every one of them is a cyclist, one of the people we're vaguely supposed to support. That 8mph commuter who goes into work every day on their bike? They do just as many miles as the lycra-clad weekender, training for his next sportive.

Newsflash - you become fit by riding. It seems a little self-defeating to start going around saying, "No - you will not ride a bike in public, on our roads until you can do the vehicular cyclist 25mph sprint and with a fixed upper body while doing it".

How about a little encouragement for the starters?

correct, when I started cycle commuting, I was a very blobby 17 stone just two years ago and could only cope with two at most days a week doing it.

Now 13 1/2 stone and still overweight, but a heck of a lot fitter as a result.

Avatar
seven | 9 years ago
0 likes

Bring out the gringos!

Avatar
dafyddp | 9 years ago
0 likes

This is good news. Even if only 10% of the 2 million quoted came true, that still a staggering 200,000 people.With an election coming up in 2015, it's also 200,000 voters, so know may be a good time to open political negotiations.

Avatar
bikebot | 9 years ago
0 likes

My good karma tip, which I've tried to do every spring for the past few years.

If you see someone locking up an obviously new bike with a shit lock, tell them what they need and how they should use it. Unlike some people on here, the bike thieves love noobs.

Avatar
ChairRDRF | 9 years ago
0 likes

joemmo's post is BRILLIANT.
1. Cyclescheme say that their scheme is fantastic and everybody will ride a bike because of it.
2. The cycle-haters will, er, hate cyclists.

And everybody else says that they don't get on with lots of the new cyclists.

Avatar
farrell | 9 years ago
0 likes

For those getting angry at the thought of "noobs" can I just ask what gearing set up you went for when you pedaled out of yer mam?

Avatar
fancynancy replied to farrell | 9 years ago
0 likes

When I first started commuting a fair few years ago I was very wary & respectful of everyone around me, bikes, peds, cars etc. I think its a matter of respect really. Noobs do not respect others, newbies are welcome  103 Its also a matter of knowing the highway code  45

Avatar
fancynancy | 9 years ago
0 likes

Nooooo.... sorry, but I get fed up with the noobs... & thats a lot of noobs  102

Avatar
fancynancy | 9 years ago
0 likes

Nooooo.... sorry, but I get fed up with the noobs... & thats a lot of noobs  102

Avatar
workhard | 9 years ago
0 likes

More cyclists means more awareness of cyclists means more drivers expecting to see cyclists means fewer invisible gorillas and thus fewer SMIDSY's although...

...the number of cyclist-on-cyclist SMIDSY's will go up whilst the noobs learn to expect other cyclists.

..the number of existing cyclists suffering "this is my road and you must ride it my way, how very dare you be a noob" road-rage is likely to increase.

Avatar
georgee | 9 years ago
0 likes

The TFL cycleflow data shows there have been pretty healthy numbers going through the winter months despite the rain. Do consider that London grows 1,000 a week and not all of them can fit on the tube nextwork if they're to get to work.

As for the Daily Fail commentary, that was utter tosh, the commentary made not a single mention of House Prices.

Avatar
workhard replied to | 9 years ago
0 likes
georgee wrote:

The TFL cycleflow data shows there have been pretty healthy numbers going through the winter months despite the rain. Do consider that London grows 1,000 a week and not all of them can fit on the tube nextwork if they're to get to work.

As for the Daily Fail commentary, that was utter tosh, the commentary made not a single mention of House Prices.

There is a real danger to swans. The noobs will be starving after a couple of weeks vigorous commuting.

Avatar
Leodis | 9 years ago
0 likes

I have noticed more bikes in the racks for this time of the year, it goes back to normal rates by Thursday or if its heavy rain early on.

Avatar
giff77 replied to Leodis | 9 years ago
0 likes
Leodis wrote:

I have noticed more bikes in the racks for this time of the year, it goes back to normal rates by Thursday or if its heavy rain early on.

Maybe this is what's happening.

Pages

Latest Comments