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Strava’s Year in Sport report reveals UK gender divide in cycling

Report also finds women more likely to ride in groups for safety

The gender divide in cycling is worse in the UK compared to the other European countries and is below the global average, according to Strava’s latest annual Year in Sport report, which also finds that women are more likely to run and cycle in groups due to safety concerns.

The report tracks trends in activity from 48 million people in 195 countries, with Strava – now in its 10th year – still recruiting members at the rate of 1 million a month. Its reach is underlined by the fact that one in three riders at the Tour de France this year are on Strava, while half of the entrants to the London Marathon shared their data from the event on the social network.

Here are some of the key findings from the report:

For both runs and rides, women are more likely to exercise with other people than men. In the UK, 27 per cent of rides by men are grouped vs. 37 per cent of rides by women and 22 per cent of runs by men are grouped vs. 32% by women

As platforms like Zwift and TrainerRoad continue to grow, virtual cycle rides are up 4.7 per cent in June and 9.7 per cent in January (2015-2019) - helping athletes to train in all seasons.

Data from the Year in Sport report demonstrates how adverse weather conditions impact athlete activity. As the world sees more frequent extreme weather events, technology is helping athletes to train in whatever the season or weather.

In the UK, women are 12 per cent less likely to cycle than men when commuting, compared to a global average of 6.7 per cent. In London, however, it is more equal with women just 2.7 per cent less likely than men.

France, Germany and Spain are all much closer to equal likelihood – suggesting that Britain should learn from its European counterparts when it comes to cycle infrastructure.

Gareth Mills, Strava’s UK country manager said:“There’s so much to celebrate in the Year in Sport this year. The growth of distance running on Strava is mind-blowing, and something I don’t believe has been captured effectively in the past.

“As we are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, particularly in developed countries, perhaps the call of the marathon or ultramarathon distance becomes a way of combating this trend for many of our community.

“At the same time, we are clearly engaging a broader range of athletes than ever before - from 50 percent of the pro peloton at the Tour de France to almost a third of parkrunners in the UK.

“The data also spotlights areas for improvement. It is disappointing to see that British women are much less likely to commute by bike than men compared to the global average, and we should refocus on the root causes.

“Organisations around the world, including TfL, are working with Strava Metro to find insights in our data which can support better infrastructure planning - and it’s great to see that London performs far better than the UK average in this area.”

Other findings of the report include:

Most people get their workout in before work

6am was the most popular start time for runners, whilst cyclists started later - with 8am the most popular time.

Earlier activities are more likely to be done with friends - with activities starting at 5am seeing the highest proportion of group participants.

Rise of the all rounder

Single-sport athletes have been on a steady decline year-on-year

Marathoners who improved their PRs increased their non-run activity by 13 per cent.

Goal-setters more likely to stay active

95 per cent of people who set a goal on Strava in January were still active by September, as opposed to 87 per cent of people who did not.

Cycle commuting on the rise

British athletes cycle shorter distances than the global average (17.7km vs. 26.1km) and their US counterparts (21.5km) as increasing numbers of people take to their bikes to commute.

Strava members offset 28,270 metric tons of CO2 by commuting over 112.6m km in the UK last year. The median cycle commute was 8.3km in the UK last year.

Hottest gear in 2019

Most popular shoe for the London Marathon (by percentage of runners): Nike Pegasus

By year-on-year growth, the following gear was the fastest growing:

Shoes: Hoka One One Carbon X, Adidas Solar Glide, New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon

Bikes: Trek Checkpoint, Orbea Oiz, Canyon Neuron

New running devices: Polar Vantage M, Garmin Forerunner 945, Garmin Instinct

New cycling devices: Garmin Edge 530, Garmin Edge 830, Wahoo Elemnt Roam

Workout apps: Aaptiv, Wattbike, Digme

Simon has been news editor at 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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