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Oxbridge cities top cycle-to-work league table

But London boroughs dominate in terms of percentage-point increases in cycling commuters

Cambridge and Oxford have the highest proportion of cycling commuters in England and Wales according to census data analysis recently released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Both of the famous university towns have seen an increase in the proportion of commuters riding bikes to work over the last ten years.

This has led to both towns retaining the top two spots on the list of local authorities with the highest proportion of working residents cycling to work.

The data only cover the main mode of transport used to get to work, so someone say riding their bike to Oxford railway station then catching a train to Reading or London - perhaps even continuing their journey there by Boris Bike - wouldn't be counted.

While only three London boroughs feature in the list's top ten, the capital’s districts take eight of the top ten places in percentage improvement in the proportion of commuters cycling over the last ten years.

Northern cities have not taken to cycling quite as well over the last decade. Only Newcastle and Manchester feature in the top 30 for percentage increase in cycling commuters.

Meanwhile, both Hull and York feature in the top ten for the proportion of their workers commuting by bike, but both towns have seen a fall in that figure over the last ten years.

Welsh local authorities take five of the bottom ten places on the lowest-proportion-of-workers-cycling-to-work list. It’s just as well, then, that many of these districts are due to see government investment to encourage children to cycle to school in the near future, which should see improvements to road infrastructure that will benefit commuters too, and there is also the impact of the Active Travel Act.

As you can see below, Cambridge sit at the top of the table of authorities with the highest proportion of workers cycling to work with 29% of its working population choosing to cycle, which is a 3.1 percentage-point increase on the number of workers cycling in 2001.

There’s quite a drop to Oxford, the next best performing authority, with 17.1% of their commuting population on bicycles, an increase of 2.2 percentage points on 2001. While, the somewhat smaller sample of the Isles of Scilly sit in a potentially-misleading third place with 14.2%, or 182, of their commuters riding bikes to work.

It should be noted that given the Isles of Scilly's small population, they also sit third from bottom in terms of the number of residents cycling to work, above the two worst performing districts in terms of proportion of commuters cycling: Merthyr Tydful and Blaenau Gwent.

The London boroughs are introduced to the mix in fourth spot. Hackney features with 13.8% of its commuters cycling, which is a sample-high increase of 7.6 percentage points on the 2001 statistics.

The other London local authorities on the list, Islington and Lambeth, feature in seventh and tenth on the list of proportion of working residents cycling to work, but sit second and third, behind Hackney, in the percentage-point increase table with increases of 4.4 and 3.6 respectively.

The improvement in cycling uptake in London has not been matched by the top ten’s northern towns of York and Hull. Hull’s percentage of cycling commuters has dropped by 3.6 percentage points to 8.1%, and York’s by 0.8 of a percentage point to 11.2%. This sees the front-line of northern cycling towns sit at fifth and ninth in the table.

The split between the North and South in terms of cycle commuting success falls in line with research carried out by the Department for Transport in 2012 which we reported on.

Of the top 30 most improved authorities over the last ten years, only Newcastle and Manchester feature from the north of the country. The North-East city sits in 22nd place with a 0.9 percentage-point improvement in commuters cycling, while the Manchester in the North West has only seen a 0.7 percentage-point improvement.

Only 13 of the 70 local authorities in the north of the country have seen an improvement in the proportion of commuters cycling over the last decade.

Closing out the top ten authorities with the highest proportions of workers cycling to work are Gosport and Norwich in sixth and eighth. Neither town saw a change in their proportion of commuting cyclists over the last decade.

For those who are interested, here are the top ten worst performing authorities in the country:

If you live in England or Wales and are curious as to how your local authority has performed on the national scale, the full list of results can be downloaded in spreadsheet form via the ONS website, here.

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Edgeley | 10 years ago

It is noticeable that the bottom authorities are either very poor or very hilly, or both.

userfriendly | 10 years ago

Any idea where to get those kind of numbers for Scotland?

Wolfshade | 10 years ago

No it is all wrong! It is time for Cambridge to have it's name mentioned first. Camford, not Oxbridge.


Though what would be interesting is to see how these stats correlate with the topography of the regions and the urban sprawl.

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