Fifty-eight per cent

This article was published in 2012, in Newsletter 104.

A recent publication from the Department for Transport, ‘Local area walking and cycling in England, 2010/11’, is interesting reading. The local newspapers picked up on some of the numbers, but the detail is really fascinating.

Percentage of people cycling by frequency
Image as described adjacent

For example, look at the graph on the right that shows the percentage of people in various locations who cycle at least five times a week (blue), three times a week (green), once a week (yellow), and once a month (red).

As you can see, 58% of people in Cambridge cycle at least once a month. Consider that there are approximately 123,900 people living in Cambridge. That means that over 71,800 people cycle every month in Cambridge.

Even more dramatic is that, according to these statistics, 37% of people in Cambridge cycle at least five times a week: probably commuting a few days a week, popping to the shops, visiting the cinema, or going over to friends. Just think how many people cycle in Cambridge almost every day: over 45,800 people. That would fill the football stadium on Newmarket Road more than four times over. Although parking all those bikes might be a problem…

The number of people who cycle in Cambridge almost every day would fill Cambridge United’s football stadium more than four times over

Oxford, the closest city in terms of raw numbers, has only 12% of people cycling five times a week.

Interestingly, three other areas have the same 32% of people cycling at least once a month: Gosport (near Portsmouth), York, and South Cambridgeshire. South Cambridgeshire is a mostly rural area surrounding Cambridge. York is a university city with four times the density of people, yet it has roughly the same proportion of people cycling.

Compare all these figures with those for Luton. Just 8% of Lutonians cycle once a month and less than 2% cycle regularly.

I think we should remind people that lots of people do cycle in Cambridge and also in South Cambridgeshire. Perhaps it would just be easier to say that the majority of people in Cambridge use a bicycle.

Robin Heydon