Which English cities have the most cycling commuters?

By City Monitor Staff

The latest instalment of our weekly series, in which we use the Centre for Cities’ data tools to crunch some of the numbers on Britain’s cities.

So over the Christmas break, while you and I were stuffing our faces, those busy elves at the Centre for Cities quietly added a whole swathe of new numbers to their data store. Huzzah.

Many of the new stats concern how people move around our cities. We’re a bunch of transport geeks (and, let’s be honest about this, you are too); so in the next few of these blogs, we’ll be looking at commuting patterns in different English and Welsh cities. (Cities in Scotland and Northern Ireland are sadly not included in the data.)

First up – in which cities are people most likely to cycle to work? Place your bets.

Percantage of workers who commute by bike. Source: Centre for Cities/ONS.

No big surprises at the top of the chart. As one would probably expect, it’s beautiful medieval cities with universities in them that top the rankings – not just Oxford and Cambridge, but York, too.

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That said, the scale of Cambridge’s lead gives you pause for thought: nearly a third of people in the capital of the Fens cycle to work. That number is still low compared to Amsterdam, where over 60 per cent of residents are estimated to cycle every day, but it’s an order of magnitude higher than most UK cities. The fact Hull is in fourth place is also a bit of a surprise.

One other thing worth noting – with the exception of Bristol, all these places are famously flat. Go figure.

What of the bottom 10?

Percantage of workers who commute by bike. Source: Centre for Cities/ONS.

Source: Centre for Cities/ONS.

Two observations, here. One is that, most of these cities are in the north (all except Chatham). It’s tempting to blame hills again – the north is generally hillier than the south – but that’s the sort of un-informed guesswork you should probably ignore. All we can say with confidence is that, in a lot of northern cities, basically nobody cycles.

And that’s our other observation. In the cities at this end of the table, the number of people who cycle to work is tiny. It’s less than 1 per cent in four cities, and less than 2 per cent in 22.

What’s more, those cities where less than 2 per cent of people cycle to work include some biggies. In Liverpool and Leeds it’s 1.8 per cent; it’s Birmingham it’s ust 1.6 per cent. (In London, for what it’s worth, it’s a more healthy 3.7 per cent.)

For the sake of completeness, here’s a map showing how many people commuted by bike in 2011. Hover over any city to get the data. 


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