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 latest census figures by Halfords has revealed.

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.


Notes to Editors:

Source: Census 2011 from the Office of National Statistics

Top ten towns/cities for increase in cycling to work 2001/2011

1 Inner London 155%

2 Brighton118%

3 Bristol 100%

4 Manchester 88%

5 Newcastle 86%

6 Sheffield 85%

7 Cardiff 68%

8 Gateshead 63%

9Exeter 57%

10 Liverpool 51%


About Us

Halfords is the UK's leading retailer of automotive, cycling and leisure products and, through Halfords Autocentres, also one of the UK's leading independent car servicing and repair operators. Halfords customers shop at 465 stores in the UK and ROI and at for pick-up at their local store or direct home delivery. Halfords Autocentres operates from around 300 sites nationally and offers motorists dealership-quality MOTs, repairs and car servicing at affordable prices. The Halfords group strategy is based on three pillars: · Supporting Drivers Of Every Car · Inspiring Cyclists Of Every Age · Equipping Families For Their Leisure Time The Getting Into Gear strategy for the Retail business is based on executing in five key areas in order to deliver a significantly-enhanced customer experience: · Service Revolution · The H Factor · Stores Fit to Shop · 21st Century Infrastructure · Click with the Digital Future Halfords employs approximately 12,000 colleagues and sells around 9,000 product lines in store, increasing to around 160,000 Retail products online. The Retail offering encompasses significant ranges in car parts, cycling products, in-car technology, child seats, roof boxes and camping equipment. Halfords’ own cycling brands include Apollo, Carrera and Boardman cycles, augmented by a range of other brands of cycles and accessories, including Kona, Mongoose, Raleigh and Pinarello. In Auto, the Halfords Essentials and Halfords Enhanced ranges are sold alongside brands such as Generic Electric, Bosch, Garmin and TomTom. The Retail Auto offering was recently augmented by the introduction of Car Parts Direct, a service delivering rapid customer access to around 130,000 car parts. In Travel Solutions, Halfords sells a premium range of camping equipment including brands such as Vango and Outwell. Halfords offers customers expert advice and a fitting service for car parts, child seats, satellite navigation and in-car entertainment systems, and a service for cycles.