Cycling levels surge in England as consumers try to cut costs, according to Cycling UK

Cycling levels in England have jumped dramatically as consumers try to reduce their outgoings, according to charity Cycling UK.

According to the advocacy organisation, cycling levels have risen by 47% on weekdays and 27% on weekends in the five months up to the end of July, when compared with the same period last year.

The recent surge in petrol costs and the rise in the cost of living, has encouraged consumers to turn away from the car and take two wheels, the charity said, after analysing new figures released by the Department for Transport.

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “Rising fuel prices have triggered some people to think about their transport choices, switching some of their car journeys to cycling. But too many people don’t feel like they have that option because they don’t think our roads are safe enough to cycle on.

“The answer to that is more and better infrastructure for cycling and walking, giving more people the opportunity to do so safely rather than default to driving a short trip to work or the shops.

“With 71% of all journeys made in the UK under five miles, switching some of those to cycling is a simple way to help people make ends meet during the cost-of-living crisis, with additional health, wellbeing and environmental benefits. But to give people that choice we need local authorities to act now to make active travel a realistic option and help people keep moving.”

Cycling UK is now calling on local authorities and employers to do more to help people drive less and cycle more, particularly for shorter journeys.

On average between March and July this year, weekday cycling levels have been 47% higher, and on weekends and holidays 27% higher, when compared to the same time in 2021.

One consumer turning away from the car is Richard Jewell from Northamptonshire, who said: “I’ve always enjoyed cycling for leisure, but I find utility cycling – riding with a genuine purpose – particularly satisfying. It saves money, is kinder to the environment, usually takes barely any longer than driving, and turns a mundane task into a mini adventure.

“Lately fuel prices have distilled my thoughts even further. The ever-rising price has made me feel more and more like the government and fuel companies are simply taking advantage of me. And then about a month ago something snapped and I placed my car on Autotrader, and within two days it was gone.

“Looking back I can’t recall the last time I genuinely needed to drive. Being completely honest with myself I had owned a car for the last 20 years simply because it was the expected thing for an adult to do.

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“A month in I have no regrets, I’m managing quite nicely and have no plans to go back. I’m saving £60 a month on car tax and insurance, never mind the cost of fuel and maintenance, so I am already noticing the improvement in my finances.”

Cycling UK offers a variety of schemes aimed to get more people cycling, including the Bike Bike Revival events, offering essential riding advice for beginners, and video guides on how to repair punctures and roadside bike repairs.

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