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It depends how you count them

Which areas of England and Wales have the most cycle commuters? A home insurance company has added up the numbers and found that unsurprisingly it's Greater London. But when you take populations into account things get a bit more interesting.

It's no surprise that with its vast population Greater London also has the largest raw number of cycle commuters with 155,289 people riding to work, according to the figures from Privilege Home Insurance.

In second place comes much humbler Cambridgeshire with 29,689 cycle commuters; Greater Manchester is third with 25,161.

But when you take the populations of the areas into account, Cambridgeshire is a clear winner with almost five percent of its population commuting by bike.

Greater London comes in just under two percent and Greater Manchester can't even muster a paltry one percent.

In the tables below, you can see the 'raw' ranking by number of bike commuters, and the ranking by percentage of population.

Top ten UK cycle commuting districts

District Cycle commuters
Greater London 155,289
Cambridgeshire 29,689
Greater Manchester (Met County) 25,161
Oxfordshire 23,101
Hampshire 20,658
West Midlands (Met County) 19,029
Norfolk 17,332
Bristol 15,768
Essex 13,891
Suffolk 13,558

UK cycle commuting districts by percentage of population

District  Population  Cycle commuters  Proportion
Cambridgeshire 622,200 29,689 4.77%
Bristol 432,500 15,768 3.65%
Oxfordshire 654,800 23,101 3.53%
Norfolk 859,400 17,332 2.02%
Greater London 8,308,000 155,289 1.87%
Suffolk 730,100 13,558 1.86%
Hampshire 1,322,300 20,658 1.56%
Greater Manchester (Met County) 2,700,000 25,161 0.93%
Essex 1,729,200 13,891 0.80%
West Midlands (Met County) 2,783,475 19,029 0.68%

One possible weakness in this analysis is that it's hard to be certain exactly what Privilege means by 'Bristol' or 'Hampshire'. I've assumed the city/county population for the former and the county without the unitary metro authorities for the latter. I'm sure more stats-savvy readers will have something to say.

If you're wondering what an insurance company is doing finding this out, well, trying to sell home insurance to cyclists of course.

Dan Simson, head of Privilege Home Insurance said: "Cycling is a healthy, cost-effective and eco-friendly means of transport and it's encouraging to see how many people choose to cycle to work around the country." 

"It is, of course, very important for cyclists to stay safe whilst commuting and to secure their bicycles once they have arrived at the workplace.

"Having a good home insurance policy that provides cycle cover both at home and whilst out and about offers the best of both worlds to our two-wheeled commuters."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.