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Commuters getting on their bikes

The number of people cycling to work has soared to 760,000 in England and Wales as commuters switch to two wheels. The past ten years has seen the popularity of riding a bike to the office, shop and factory soar by 17%, a detailed analysis of the lat


The boom in using the bike follows the success of the Government’s tax advantageous Cycle to Work scheme which offers up to 42% savings on acquiring a new bike, cities actively encouraging pedal power and concern over health.
It also reflects the huge interest in cycling promoted by the likes of Tour de France winner and Olympics hero Bradley Wiggins and fellow racers such as golden girls Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott.
In 2001 when the previous census was carried out the number cycling to work was 650,000.
The bike is even threatening the car in popularity as the regular choice of transport in some cities that have introduced special routes and catered for cyclists.
Walking has also seen a major upturn, up 20%, along with taking the train, up 42%, light rail or underground, up 45%. The number of people opting for a lift to work has dropped along with the use of motorbike and scooter.
While just over six out of ten people use the car, growth has slowed. Surprisingly the figures show a marked drop in the number of people working from home, down a third from ten years ago.
Halfords spokesperson Keith Scott said: “As one of the biggest providers of ‘Cycle to Work’, we know just how popular this scheme has become, with growing interest from both employers and employees who are aware of how other transport costs are rising and how cycling is beneficial to their health. “
“It means less pollution and less traffic. The census figures reveal cycling is no longer just for a minority and shows how planners have to consider all road users when looking at the commuting habits in our towns and cities. “
Halfords studied the transport habits of almost 350 major towns, councils and metropolitan areas in England and Wales that are detailed in the 2011 Census.
Inner London has seen the biggest rise in bike use, with the number of commuters cycling into work going up by an explosive 155% over the past ten years. In Brighton, nominated a cycle demonstration town, bike use is up 118% while the number getting behind the wheel of a car in the seaside town has actually seen a drop.
In Bristol with a cycle friendly council the popularity of cycling to work has doubled, in Bournemouth it is up 47%, university towns of Cambridge and Oxford have seen growth of 39% and 37% and Bath is up 30%and Southampton up 24%. Overall Cambridge has more cyclists per head of population than any other town in the UK.
In the Welsh capital of Cardiff, which has been encouraging sustainable travel,cycling to work has grown by 68% since 2001 while Nottingham, which has an active cycling strategy, is up 17%, and nearby Leicester up 9%.
It’s not just major towns that are experiencing a rise in cycling, the district of South Gloucestershire has seen an increase of 41%, East Sussex is up 34%, Central Bedfordshire, which is comprised of small towns and villages, is up 33%, and Cumbria is also up 33%.
London is not the only major metropolitan region to see more cyclists on the roads at rush hour. In Greater Manchester cycling to work is up 25%, in the industrial North East it has risen by 19%, on Merseyside by 12% and in the conurbations that make up West and South Yorkshire it is up by 25%.
However in some areas its popularity has fallen, especially where people may be facing longer journeys to find work. In the West Midlands as a whole, cycling as a preferred form of transport is down. Lancashire and North Yorkshire have also seen a drop, though York is up 8%. Derbyshire is down along with Lincolnshire and Essex.
The Cycle to Work Alliance represents all the major cycle to work scheme providers. It reports a 7.9% rise in the number joining the scheme last year compared with 2011. The biggest increase recorded shortly after the end of the cycle boosting Olympics and the announcement of the increase in inflation busting rail fares.
Halfords is the UK’s largest bike, cycle clothing and accessories retailer, with over 460 superstores. Our wide range includes road, MTB, BMX, town and trail. Mens Bikes at Halfords include leading brands Boardman, Voodoo and Carrera. We build every bike purchased and also offer our customers a free six week safety check. Visit us online if you are thinking of buying Road Bikes at


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