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Number of journeys by bike in London at record high, TfL shows

Joe Robinson
20 Dec 2019

Report shows rise in journeys by bike despite drop in Londoners cycling regularly

The amount of journeys in London by bike is on the rise, especially in areas with quality cycling infrastructure, a new report from the Transport for London has shown.

The release of TfL's annual 'Travel in London' report showed the 'major success' of the capital's new Cycleways as huge increases in their use contributed to a rise in the number of trips by bike annually.

Data showed that the share of trips by bike in 2018 made up for 2.5 per cent of daily trips, a rise of 0.5 per cent year-on-year. 

Cyclists in London took an average of 745,000 trips a day, riding a cumulative average of 4 million kilometres daily, the highest amount for both since records began in 2015.

TfL showed that a large contributing factor to this increase was the continuing success of the capital's multiple segregated cycleways.

A few snapshots showed huge growth for some of the cycleways. Notably, Cycleway 23 in Waltham Forest reported a 120 per cent growth in cycling traffic since 2016. There was also a substantial rise in cycling traffic on the Portland Road Cycleway in Southwark.

This comes despite widespread opposition against multiple cycleway proposals across the city. The last 12 months alone saw local councils block cycleways on Kensington High Street, Notting Hill Gate and the City of Westminster.

Commenting on the growth of cycling in the capital, particularly on the segregated cycleways, London's walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman called for more to be done.

'Enabling more people to cycle is vital to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing London, such as our toxic air, congestion and the inactivity crisis,' said Norman.

'It’s fantastic to see continued growth in the numbers of people cycling. These figures show why it is so important that we continue to invest in our network of cycleways and enable even more Londoners to choose a greener, cleaner and healthier way of getting around our city.'

Drops and demographics

While the number of journeys by bike is on the rise and the cycleways appear to be working, there is some bad news.

Last year actually saw the lowest proportion of Londoners reported to have cycled at least once during 2018, dropping down to just 21 per cent, the lowest number since 2011.

TfL said that while cycling volume has increased driven, this is only because of 'population growth and those who already cycle doing so more often and further, rather than by cycling becoming more widespread among the whole population.'

The report also highlighted the disparity of those cycling with those riding in London most likely to be white, male and of a higher household income.

In terms of gender split, the levels have remained steady since 2017 with over 60 per cent of the capital's cyclists being male. 

Looking closer at ethnicity, only 22% of cycles journeys were non-white in 2018, 3 per cent down year-on-year, while non-white cycle commuters totalled only 11 per cent in 2018, the lowest number since 2011.

Only 13 per cent of those cycling more than once a year earn £20,000 a year or less, arguably the bracket which could benefit from a cheap and sustainable transport like cycling most. 

The trend continues to see those earning over £75,000 riding more than once a year on the rise while those earning less continue to fall.

An investigation by Cyclist earlier in the year also found that certain cycle paths in East London were putting people at risk with a single stretch of the Greenway cycle path that travels between Stratford and Beckton, having been the site of 22 muggings within a period of several months.

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