Cambridge leads for percentage of population cycling - but Hackney gets more people on bikes

Findings of Cycle Republic's analysis of official stats are unsurprising given difference in population - but still illuminating...

It’s unsurprising that London has more cyclists than anywhere else in the UK – the city’s population is around 8.7 million, after all – but just one borough, Hackney, even outdoes Cambridge in terms of the number of people there who ride bikes.

Halfords-owned chain Cycle Republic has come up with the figures after analysing data from recent government statistics.

We’ve analysed that data before on road.cc, and while we’d argue that either modal share or the proportion of people cycling regularly gives a clearer picture of where a city or borough ranks, it’s certainly interesting to look at the pure numbers.

Cambridge is the only city in the UK where the proportion of people regularly cycling  outweighs those who don’t – 54 per cent versus 46 per cent.

That equates to 56,531 people, just shaded by the 56,767 – equivalent to 26 per cent of the borough’s population – who do so in Hackney, east London.

They are among getting on for a million people – 853,581, to be precise – who regularly cycle in the capital.

The boroughs with the next highest numbers of cyclists are both in inner south London – Southwark, 53,568, equivalent to 21 per cent of its population, and Lambeth with 50,409, which equates to 19 per cent.  

While cycling numbers have been boosted in recent years in the three Mini Holland boroughs – Waltham Forest, Redbridge, and Kingston – three of their fellow outer London local authorities, Redbridge, Harrow and Sutton have the lowest numbers of people riding bikes.

Outside London, Birmingham (87,000), Bristol (76,882) and Manchester (62,883) have the highest numbers of regular cyclists – we’d expect to see the latter climb up the standings given the ambitious plans unveiled Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, Chris Boardman.

Hackney’s numbers in part are due to a variety of specific factors – low levels of access to a car, historically poor public transport links, and an influx of young professionals in recent years seeking cheaper accommodation costs, nevertheless it puts cities including Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield in the shade when it comes to how many people regularly ride a bike there.

Cycle Republic’s managing director, Peter Kimberley, commented: “It’s excellent to see cycling flourishing in areas of the country like Hackney where it’s received considerable investment.

“We hope it’ll be a clear sign to councils across the country that investment in cycling infrastructure really pays off.”

There’s more detailed analysis, including comparisons of the levels of cycling in the UK with those of fellow European Union member states, in this blog post on the Cycle Republic website.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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