Cycling in England Down 5% Since Last Year

by 33

Cycling UK has issued a press release saying ‘‘Depressing’ new figures reveal urgent funding boost needed for government to achieve cycling targets in England.’

The latest statistics show that there has been a 5% decrease in cycling across England since last year. In the same period of time we’ve seen a cost of living squeeze with price rises in many daily essentials, and a whole host of train strikes. Which you might think could make people turn to bikes as a useful and cheap transport solution? But apparently not.

This can’t be good news for the environment, or for the bike industry. With overstocking widespread, retailers will be hoping that some of those Covid converts to bikes will be looking to pick up an upgrade – not put down the bike altogether. Cycling UK blames the fall on the government’s lack of support for cycling. Here’s the full press release:

  • Latest statistics show 5% decrease in cycling across England since last year
  • Government’s flawed decision to slash budget for cycling and walking in England risks further decline
  • To avoid falling even further behind its own targets, Cycling UK urges government to boost funding for walking and cycling in upcoming Autumn Statement

New statistics published today (Thursday 7 September 2023), show that cycling traffic levels have fallen by 5% since last year.

The findings were published following the UK Government’s decision to cut dedicated funding for cycling and walking in England by more then two thirds in March 2023, despite lagging behind its modest target of doubling the number of cycling journeys by 2025.

A recent inquiry by the National Audit Office into active travel in England confirmed Cycling UK’s claims that the government’s investment in active travel fell far short of what was needed to meet the 2025 walking and cycling targets – even before ministers made further cuts in March.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK said:

“These statistics should be wake up call for the government, which has already been told in crystal clear terms by the National Audit Office that it can’t meet its own targets without substantially increasing investment in active travel.

“Multiple government polices recognise the carbon reduction, public health, air pollution and economic benefits which flow from more people cycling and walking, particularly for short journeys. It’s therefore imperative that the government reflects on these figures, and urgently reverses the cuts in the Autumn Statement.”

Following the cuts, Cycling UK joined its partners in the Walking and Cycling Alliance and more than 146 other organisations, including Campaign for Better Transport and Asthma + Lung UK, to write to the prime minister highlighting the disproportionate level of cuts to funding for cycling and walking infrastructure. The incompatibility between what the government has promised to deliver, and the investment committed to achieve that was repeated in the National Audit Office report in June, and the government’s response to that report is still awaited.

The prime minister also recently indicated a U-turn on his own government’s stated support for low traffic neighbourhoods, ironically one of the measures local authorities can implement to enable more people to walk and cycle safely, at a time when the government is slashing central funding because they are relatively cheap to introduce. So far, over 5000 people have used Cycling UK’s online template to write to the Prime Minister urging him not to backtrack. Measures designed to create safer streets and to give people real alternatives to driving short journeys.

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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  • This topic has 33 replies, 28 voices, and was last updated 1 week ago by Bruce.
Viewing 33 posts - 1 through 33 (of 33 total)
  • Cycling in England Down 5% Since Last Year
  • DT78
    Free Member

    honestly given the summer we’ve had its not surprising.  doubtful more funding can sort a weather controlling machine.

    that said more funding for cycling infrastructure is a good thing

    Full Member

    As above, weather has been shit.

    Full Member

    I don’t think the weather has been that shit, not when you look at the whole year? Yes July and August this year were pretty crap, but until then the reservoirs were low and it had been pretty dry for ages. The winter wasn’t especially harsh either.

    Full Member

    Not surprised in the slightest, I don’t believe weather is the main factor either.

    Shame really considering the state of this nations mental health, NHS and obesity levels. The trajectory is not flattering.

    Full Member

    Traffic is shit, drivers are nobs, roads are in a shit state, bikes are well expensive, no incentive from schools for kids to ride to school or the infrastructure isn’t their for kids to feel safe, constant moaning about cyclists from the drivercentric media…..

    Not a surprise really. See the 3rd world country thread, the place is going to the dogs I tell thee!!…

    Edit: and the government doesn’t give a shit about helping anyone or meeting any green targets.

    Full Member

    Did people really believe the world would change once COVID was “over”?

    The UK has a very established Car culture now and a couple of lockdowns was never going to change that…

    Back to business as usual again.

    Full Member

    So slightly up on prepandemic levels but lower than last year, sounds about right as people find themselves increasingly back in the office and shorter on time.

    Car traffic is still 8.5% down on prepandemic, though noticeably up from last year.

    It’s not funding, it’s not the state of the roads or driving, it isn’t the weather it’s people having to get kids to school and then to the office. People popping to the shop for tea on the way home (I’m the car) rather than going to the shop on the bike.

    Normal service is being resumed.

    Full Member

    Lots of dreadful infrastructure. And good infrastructure takes time to build. In Cambridge, the Milton Road cycle path looks amazing but it has been just a hole in the ground and before that just a twinkle in the city council’s eye for years.

    The Chisolm trail has been twenty years in the making.

    Free Member

    Would love to see the confidence intervals.

    Full Member

    Yep, the whole post-Covid “build back better” thing came to a floundering halt almost before it got going. Funding cuts, numerous changes within DfT (like a new Minister every few months….), political will being near zero and an absolute terror of upsetting Mr & Mrs Driver/Voter.

    Combine that with high levels of bike theft, return to the office (and many offices having near zero cycling facilities), and the roads returning to normal traffic levels, it’s hardly surprising that many people have decided they’re not willing to risk all that.

    It’s actually not really the funding that’s needed – active travel stuff is very cheap to implement compared to pretty much any other infrastructure – it’s the political will to see it through against a tirade of outraged gammons who bombard councils with abuse and FOIs the second there’s any mention of restricting cars or providing anything for those tax dodging freeloading pavement riding cyclists.

    Full Member

    I have definitely felt that since the changes to the Highway Code giving cyclists more protection from motorists, the absolute opposite has happened.

    A lot more aggression and antagonistic behaviour by drivers as well as many more punishment passes for no good reason.

    Being hit by a car while stopped at a pedestrian crossing made me question giving up riding the road all together!

    Full Member

    Most drivers haven’t even glanced at the Highway Code this century.

    Full Member

    Although I’ve been smashed off my bike twice by motorists in the past couple of years, I’ve been thinking that drivers are generally more considerate with passing space than they were before the rule changes. I know I definitely take a more dominant position in most roads on my bike now and I think that helps. 99.99% of drivers are fine, we only notice the tiny percentage of idiots.

    I’ve cycled more than ever this year – 750 miles+ since May – nearly all for fun. I’ll still jump in the car to nip to the shops/gym etc if the weather is stinking.


    So yes, getting back to normal post covid, but the rubbish summer will definitely have had an impact too

    Free Member

    The problem with these headlines and “statistics” is this:

    Walking and cycling statistics present data using two main sources, the National Travel Survey (NTS) and the Active Lives Survey (ALS). The NTS is a household survey of personal travel by residents of England travelling within Great Britain, from data collected via interviews and a one-week travel diary. The ALS is a household survey by residents of England, from data collected via a push-to-web survey.

    How many of us here were given the NTS or ALS surveys to complete? And what was the number of completed surveys?
    Cycling down by 5% can be an either incredibly accurate or inaccurate statistic depending on the demographic surveyed.
    On the travel diary does that include all forms of travel or just commuting? I’m out on the bike at least twice a week for a 2-3 hr ride each time but I don’t commute by bike as my office is a 42 mile round trip, I also wouldn’t class going for a jaunt around a trail center as travelling by bike so, I wonder what the ins and outs of these surveys were and how that compared to text book definitions and personal interpretations..

    Full Member

    Not really a surprise, this government have slashed spending on cycling infrastructure and have come out firmly on the “side” of motorists (see ULEZ etc) It all has an effect.

    Having said that, there’s some pretty impressive cycling lanes being built in my part of Manchester that’ll mean soon I can cycle all the way to the centre of town on pretty much completely segregated lanes which is pretty cool, and locally at least I see more and more folks out on their bikes.



    Full Member

    Entirely expected and surprised its not down by a much higher percentage. Society has now irreversibly organised itself to be slavishly dependent on private cars for the vast majority of its mobility needs, to the benefit of the individual (for convenience)  and the automobile and oil industries ( for making huge profits). We are massively inept at seeing the true detrimental impact of car dependency on society in the rise in obesity, air pollution causing asthma, injuries and deaths from accidents and impacts of CO2 emmisions in the warming of the climate. The loss of amenity and green space for all the roads and parking cars need also does not seem to perturb the car driving masses. Personally Ive not been on a road bike in 12 months and do the vast majority of my riding now via off road paths. bridleways as the standards of driving on the roads are appalling.

    Full Member

    I still await a safe cycling route to work.  In my case, being on the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, it’s been crying out for a traffic free cycle route along the route of the river for decades. But whilst there’s hot air and BS abound for greener transport, the core of it (Matlock / Cromford / Whatstalndwell / Belper / Duffield / Derby, still seems to be as distant a dream as ever.

    Because there is no serious political will to make it happen.

    (Just like cleaning up sewage pumped into rivers, or electrification of the majority of the UK Railway, or as we have seen today, a shift from burning gas for electricity to a viable wind power system.

    Free Member

    I have cycled pretty much the same amount every year for the last 20 years. While cycling was A LOT nicer during the pandemic if makes no difference to whether I cycle or not, but then I am an all year round, all weather cyclist so not the norm I suppose.

    Full Member

    I’ve always thought we need to have secure town centre attended bike parking. Nip in on your bike, give to attendant, he wheels it out back and logs your Id. Do you shiz in town, then connect a bike that’s dry and still there.

    I never cycle into town as the bikes are worth £1500 and £4000 respectively, I’d never leave £1500 quid locked up to a post.

    Full Member

    I never cycle into town as the bikes are worth £1500 and £4000 respectively, I’d never leave £1500 quid locked up to a post.

    This is a huge part of the problem, I take the E-cargo bike into town al the time but I’m not leaving it for long and not at weird times of the day, being an E cargo bike it’s also easy to carry multiple hefty locks wherever I go.

    Planning on adding a Knogg scout alarm and tracker to it as soon as they do an Android version.

    However, for commuting to work where the bike has to left locked up all day, proper, secure (i.e. ‘inside the building’ bike parking is crucial. Even a very basic commuter bike is £500+ now.

    Newer and more progressive workspaces are slowly improving on this front, especially in London, but for many many people this is the No.1 reason not to ride, even if the bike itself isn’t nicked someone could nick bits off it or otherwise mess with it.

    Full Member

    Where I live (Doncaster) there has been a massive cycle path building program over the past few years, an Active Travel Hub which has secure bike parking and free loan bikes and ebikes. Together with new tarmac on most of the Sustrans routes a lot of money has been spent. I could nit pick on why certain bits have been done and others not, but it is fairly obvious to most now that you can do a lot of riding now without riding on a road. What I’m seeing though isn’t just that there aren’t loads of cyclists filling the paths, it’s just there aren’t many people around at all out of cars, walking and jogging is way down too, but gyms with big car parks are doing roaring trade.


    The Tour of Britain passed through Bawtry this week, I fairly often ride down to or through there, about 9 miles and maybe see half a dozen other cyclists coming or going. Pedestrians, apart from in the park, maybe three or four near the racecourse, same again passing Asda.  Another handful near the garage/Tesco local a mile south. Then likely not a soul a couple of miles of suburb. The streets are empty, shopping comes to the house not the other way round, mrsmidlife’s office is busier than ever on paper but they are moving to new offices half the size as so many WFH. Apart from events and organised stuff like football teams, there just aren’t many people outside.

    Full Member

    These statistics should be wake up call for the government


    Full Member

    I’ve always thought we need to have secure town centre attended bike parking. Nip in on your bike, give to attendant, he wheels it out back and logs your Id. Do you shiz in town, then connect a bike that’s dry and still there.

    Doesn’t need an attendant – if anything a human on minimum wage is going to be the weak link in any “secure” bike storage.

    Japan have some really cool automated “bunkers” – underground parking for bikes accessed through a small cubicle at street level, you wheel your bike in and the system parks it then you just wave your access card and it retrieves it for you and it just appears through little sliding doors.

    Free Member

    >I never cycle into town as the bikes are worth £1500 and £4000 respectively, I’d never leave £1500 quid locked up to a post.<

    Yep same issues here – i never ride to the shops or similar as mine are worth £2k+ each. In hindsight i wish i’d not sold a couple of my older bikes as they would have been a lot more suitable for ‘car replacement’ duties.

    Free Member

    I never cycle into town as the bikes are worth £1500 and £4000 respectively, I’d never leave £1500 quid locked up to a post.

    Agreed. My local train station used to have individual bike lockers (ie, individual tin sheds big enough for a bike so you just had to take a padlock with you). They removed them as they were being used as drop-points by scrotes and replaced with a crappy shelter and there’s no way I’d leave a half-decent bike there on show all day. I ended up buying a £100 POS that I rattle to the station and back on when I can face it.

    To make things worse, the space where the lockers were has been marked up as disabled parking so all the Range Rover drivers have somewhere to park.

    Full Member


    the core of it (Matlock / Cromford / Whatstalndwell / Belper / Duffield / Derby, still seems to be as distant a dream as ever.

    Because it’s nigh on impossible to create? You couldn’t run it along the length of the river as it’s too meandering, too much land would need to be bought and would be flooded a lot too! Go away from the valley floor and it would be too steep for most. The A6 is the only route really and how would you do it through the narrow sections and towns? You’d need to take up road space and it isn’t there to take in many places.

    The easy answer is use the branch line – if it’s purely for commuting get a folding bike and take the train.

    Full Member

    I never cycle into town as the bikes are worth £1500 and £4000 respectively, I’d never leave £1500 quid locked up to a post.

    How far is the journey into town? Is it hilly? Would it be doable on a cheaper bike?

    If you were to tot up a couple of years worth of carpark tickets what does that come to? That might give an indication of budget to chuck at an old, basic bike off eBay/gumtree/FB market place specifically for riding into town, it doesn’t need to be nice, in fact the worse it looks the more theft proofed it becomes, what you want is functional ideally with some type of luggage capacity (a pannier rack or a bar basket or something)…

    I’m a fan of cheapo town/shopping/pub bikes as a more practical “car replacement” than some pricey e-Bike, but I’m not in marketing…

    Full Member

    Doesn’t need an attendant – if anything a human on minimum wage is going to be the weak link in any “secure” bike storage.

    Disagree. The staff are what gives the confidence to use them, especially for the vulnerable and first time users, then you have CCTV to keep an eye on the staff.

    Free Member

    <span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Roboto, ‘Helvetica Neue’, Arial, ‘Noto Sans’, sans-serif, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, ‘Segoe UI’, ‘Apple Color Emoji’, ‘Segoe UI Emoji’, ‘Segoe UI Symbol’, ‘Noto Color Emoji’; background-color: #eeeeee;”>”As above, weather has been shit.”</span>

    What short memories some people have…

    Full Member

    Disagree. The staff are what gives the confidence to use them, especially for the vulnerable and first time users, then you have CCTV to keep an eye on the staff.


    (IMO) The point is that cycling into a town centre should be a minimal impact, affordable option that just relies on fixed, passive infrastructure and users owning a basic bike and a lock, not some attended cycle park so the middle-classes can stash their ego-chariot with the help.

    Buy a cheap runabout bike rather than demand expensive facilities just so you can securely store an overvalued personal asset.

    Free Member

    Isn’t the use case of popping into town covered by hire bikes and e scooters that are being rolled out,  I know they aren’t every where but they get good use in my city (southampton)

    as for the weather, i disagree the weather has been massively shit where I am, I think it was wet 7 weekends in a row over summer. It has been a major factor for me just not bothering, and taking up running this year.  Now it’s too bloody hot.  Went for a 50 a few days ago and was a right state afterwards,  for newer cyclists pissing rain or 30 degree heat is going to really put them off.

    I also agree the roads are just not a nice place to be, my area is having 20 rolled out,  the amount of frothing on the local forums about it is incredible.  And every evening whilst sorting the kids I look out of the window, I’d say not even half of the traffic is anywhere close to the new 20 limit, many far faster

    Full Member

    Every time cycling safety comes up there are the usual voices calling for more cycle lanes etc etc etc.

    We made a decision to try and lower our carbon footprint by riding from home more rather than driving all over the country to go mountain biking. This means more road riding.

    The problem is that as we get out of the urban area we have to share the roads with other traffic. Driving standards appear to have deteriorated over the past few years and things like sticking to anything like the speed limit has long gone. When driving a car in the Manchester suburbs it is not unsual to be overtaken when sticking to 30 and 20 mph speed limits. Red Lights appear to be optional and aggression and lack of restraint are common.

    Yesterday I cycled to Wilmslow and back in the space of 16 miles I had 2 very closs passes (stick your elbow out and you could touch the car) and got overtaken by a middle aged man driving a Mini. This overtake was performed on a narrow lane midway through a tight bend with no way of seeing if the road was clear of on comming traffic. He then turned into the Wilmslow Carrs car park less than 100 metres from the overtake.

    Your are not even safe in the cycle lanes, on Saturday I was driving through Chorlton doing 30mph and being left behind by two young men on E scooters in the cycle lane going against the flow for that side of the road.

    Add in bike theft, why would anybody take up riding a bike?


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