Recent statistics from the Department for Transport reveal that 15 per cent of adults in England cycle at least once a month. But perhaps more astonishingly, the figures also reveal that around 14 per cent of Britons do not take a walk of at least 10 minutes’ length even once a month.
Around nine per cent of people cycle once a week and three per cent of people manage five rides a week, but it is arguably the walking figures that are more striking. Only 79 per cent of people walk once a week and less than half the population (47 per cent) walks five times a week.
Cycling was found to be more common for recreational purposes than for utility purposes with 10.3 per cent of people questioned cycling at least once a month for leisure, against 6.5 per cent for utility. The former is also more common in rural areas, while cycling for utility purposes is more common in urban areas.
The figures also reveal a stark gender divide. On average, 20 per cent of men questioned had cycled in the previous four weeks, while only 10 per cent of women had.
The figures were based on the Active People Survey (APS), administered by Sport England. Over 160,000 people were questioned, which has allowed analysis at local authority level. There were significant increases in cycling rates in 35 local authorities from 2012/13 to 2013/14, although in 14 authorities, there was a decrease in the number of people cycling at least once per month.
There is also a great deal of local variation. While the proportion of adults cycling at least five times per week is 28 per cent in Cambridge, the England average is three per cent and it is less than one per cent in many areas.
Cambridge also tops the list of local authorities when it comes to the percentage of people cycling at least once a month (57 per cent). Oxford is second with 39 per cent, followed by South Cambridgeshire and the Isles of Scilly (both 33 per cent) and then York and Richmond on Thames (both 32 per cent).
Interestingly, London has shown a significant decrease in cycling over the four year period from 2010/11 to 2013/14. In terms of those who cycle once a month, the proportion has dropped from 15.7 per cent to 14.2 per cent. The number of people who cycle at least five times per week – which would include many commuters – has remained stable.