The number of people who regularly cycle in West Yorkshire is the lowest for any county or metropolitan area in England. According to figures from the Active People Survey, conducted by Sport England, just 9.5 per cent of people cycled at least once a month in 2013-14.
Strikingly, this represents a decrease of 0.9 per cent compared to the 10.4 per cent who cycled that often in 2012-13. The survey runs from October to October each year, so the latest figures cover the period in which West Yorkshire played host to the Tour de France.
Yesterday we reported that the proportion of people cycling at least once a month in England in 2013-14 was 15 per cent. The West Yorkshire figures also contrast with those for the East Riding of Yorkshire (21.8 per cent) and North Yorkshire (17.2 per cent), while the City of York can boast that 32.3 per cent of its residents cycle at least monthly.
The picture is similar when it comes to the percentage of people who cycle more frequently. Only 5.5 per cent of West Yorkshire residents cycled weekly in 2013-14, compared to 6.5 per cent in the previous year and nine per cent nationally. 1.5 per cent cycle at least five times a week, up from 1.4 per cent, but still less than the national figure of three per cent.
Kirklees councillor, Martyn Bolt, who champions cycling in the area, told the Huddersfield Examiner that he was shocked by the figures.
“It is a surprise because the evidence I see points the other way. Not only do we have the success of the Tour races which attracted huge crowds and the Criterium races through Huddersfield, but the cycling clubs in the area have seen a big rise in members.
“We also have the excellent work being done by Streetbikes, who are taking cycling to the community, and a series of initiiatives by Kirklees to encourage people to try cycling. But we do need to take the report seriously and from a health point of view, it is important the councils look to see what needs to be done.”
Notably, while the overall proportion of people cycling at least monthly in England of 15 per cent does represent an increase on the 14.7 per cent figure for 2012-13, it is still lower than the proportions seen in 2011-12 and 2010-11.