Cycling rates in Cambridge

An article in the latest issue of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s newsletter draws attention to some recent data about cycling rates. The numbers show pretty dramatically just how much cycling there is in Cambridge compared with the rest of England.

First, here’s the graph from the article:

This shows the percentage of adults (aged 16 and and over) in each area who do at least some cycling over different periods. Cambridge is streets ahead of second-placed Oxford, with 58% of adults cycling at least once a month, and a truly remarkable 37% cycling at least five times a week.

However, this graph doesn’t really convey just how different Cambridge cycling rates are from the rest of England – most of the other places it shows are also above average. This next histogram shows the distribution of cycling rates across all of England’s local authorities, for adults who cycle at least once a month:

So for example the tallest bar represents the 33 local authorities where the rate is 14%. Cambridge’s 58% figure puts it way over on the right.

Even more dramatic is the corresponding histogram for adults cycling five days a week or more. Ready for some scrolling?

Here the tallest bar represents the 97 local authorities where the cycling-five-days-a-week rate is just 2% – compared with 37% in Cambridge.

It should be said that there’s some uncertainty in these numbers – given the sample size (501), Cambridge’s actual cycling rates could be up to about 5% higher or lower. But in any case, they give a very clear picture of just how much cycling there is in our flat, compact and (relatively) dry city.

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11 Responses to Cycling rates in Cambridge

  1. iitm (@iitm) says:

    However uncertain the number, it becomes quite obvious when arriving in Cambridge after travelling through less fortunate parts of the UK that Cambridge is different.

  2. SirVelo says:

    It still has to be said that the infrastructure in Cambridge is lousy in many parts of the city; and still too many places where one comes into conflict with lousy driving.

    • Martin Johnson says:

      Also too many places where lousy cyclists decide to ride on pavements even when roads are clear. Too many lousy people in general it seems.

  3. Richard Mann says:

    Oxford’s cycling rate is held down by loads of people catching the bus from Headington and Cowley (something to do with the hills, and Oxford being larger than Cambridge). The high level of bus usage means that Oxford has fewer people driving in from outside the city boundary. Which is why Oxford has been able to get rid of all its gyratories.

    But hey, nobody’s perfect.

  4. Ken Spence says:

    Phil, I’d particularly like to know more about the male/female split in numbers of cyclists in Cambridge. Equal or even higher shares of female cyclists is a clear indicator of a benign cycling culture. Sadly the “boom” in central London has still manifested a roughly 2 to 1 male female cyclist ratio.

    • Phil Rodgers says:

      Ken, that would indeed be interesting to know about – my impression is that there’s more gender balance amongst Cambridge cyclists compared to London. But I don’t have any data to back this up, and the ONS data doesn’t include any gender information.

  5. several times this year, I have been _driven_ at deliberately by Taxi drivers in streets where there is a contra flow bike lane, which the taxi drivers either ignore or are ignorant of – i haven’t been quick enough to whip out my camera phone and get pictures of them – one time, the guy shouted at me i was going the wrong way down a one way street- i was right next to a sign showing cycle path marks – obviously the guy wasn’t only a criminal but was illiterate. cambridge is better than most places but the taxi drivers are _worse_ than london black cabbies who are annoying, but mega-safe….two badly marked and dangerous places for this are Bene’t Street and St Andrews Street, both of which are quite bad for pedestrians stepping out without looking too

  6. Why are we comparing #Cambridge to hilly places like Oxford and York? You’re obviously part of Holland http://drawingrings.blogspot.com.ar/2011/01/historic-cycling-rates-in-netherlands.html

    • Mark Wassell says:

      Oxford hilly?

      • Paul M says:

        Compared with Cambridge, yes – ever been to Headington?

        Seriously though, hilliness at the Oxford scale is a bit of an irrelevance. In any conversation with a Dutchman you can observe that of course they ride bikes, because it is so flat there, and they will retort, yes, but what about the wind? Somehow in Holland, when you are riding to work the wind is in your face, and when you ride home at the end of the day, the wind has done a complete 180 and is still blowing in your face. Like Cambridge, it has no shelter from higher ground all the way to the Urals, hence gets windy and very cold in winter. I hear the other day of a friend’s daughter studying in Utrecht who had reported that a major hazard there is being blown off your bike by crosswinds!

  7. Ian G says:

    Ian G
    Oxford is a walled city – this leaves only a finite space between bus and wall – perhaps that partially explains the reticence of the Oxford cyclist

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