Figures released by Transport for London in its annual Travel in London report show there was a massive rise in cycling and walking in the capital during this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games a rise continued on after the games had ended.
Cycling in to Central London and across the Thames during the Olympics was 19 per cent higher than for the same period in 2011 and during the Paralympics - which coincided with the end of the school holidays it was 32 per cent higher. That increase continued in to the post-Games period with a 25 per cent rise in cycling in to Central London over the Thames. Overall summer 2012 saw a 17.3 per cent rise in the number of cyclists even though numbers were actually down year on year at the start and end of the summer due to bad weather.
Looking at the longer term trends Travel in London notes a dramatic shift away from private car use and towards walking, cycling and public transport - with a 10 per cent drop in the number of vehicle kilometres driven in the capital between 2000 and 2011. That shift away from the car is even more notable when set against the 13 per cent rise in London's population over the same period.
The decline in private car use is also reflected in date from the 2011 census showing a rise in the number of car-free households in the capital, most notably in inner London. In Hackney, 65% of households are now car-free, up from 56% in 2001, Westminster has seen a 6% rise, with 63% of households car-free, while 56% of Kensington & Chelsea households are now living car-free.
However not all the statistic relating to cycling and walking were quite so welcome. Last year the capital saw a disproportionate rise in cycling with deaths and inures up 22 per cent while the number of cyclists on London's roads increased by 5.2 per cent. While Travel in London highlights the fact that 58 per cent fewer people were killed or seriously injured on London's roads compared to the average for 1994-98 it is also a fact that the number of road deaths overall in London actually rose year on year by 26 per cent in 2011 from 126 to 159 with pedestrians accounting for 77 of those deaths.
That rise cycling in casualties will be food for thought for advocates of the concept of safety in numbers and ammunition for critics of London's Mayor, Boris Johnson who say the mayor has promoted his cycling revolution without providing the necessary infrastructure to cope with large numbers of inexperienced cyclists taking to London's streets. The rise in casualties will also be seized on by some as further evidence of the incompatibility of the Mayor's strategy of promoting more cycling and at the same time seeking to smooth the flow of motorised traffic in the capital.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.