Cycle journeys in London have increased by 20 per cent since Covid pandemic, figures show

Cycling now accounts for 4.5 per cent of all trips in London - up from 3.6 per cent in 2019.
Cyclists on Westminster Bridge
PA Wire

The number of journeys cycled in London has increased by 20 per cent since before the pandemic while hybrid working continues to limit demand for public transport, it was revealed on Wednesday.

The annual Travel in London report said the number of bike trips had increased from 1.19 million a day last year to 1.26 million this year– an annual rise of 6.3 per cent, and up a fifth on 2019.

Cycling now accounts for 4.5 per cent of all trips in London - up from 3.6 per cent in 2019. However, many of these were shorter journeys, and cycling levels in central London remain “subdued” due to fewer cycle commuters.

The report, which provides a fascinating insight into Londoners’ changing travel patterns, reported 1.7 per cent annual increase in cycle journeys in central London 8.2 per cent in inner London and 5.5 per cent in outer London.

A total of 24 per cent of Londoners reported having cycled in the last year, though women and black and minority ethnic Londoners continue to be under-represented.

Transport for London attributed the rise in cycling to the increase in cycle lanes, which now total 220 miles, though not all are protected from vehicles.

Walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman said: “The mayor [Sadiq Khan] and I are committed to boosting this further. We will continue to expand the network of cycleways and make more junctions and crossings safer.”

Simon Munk, from the London Cycling Campaign, said: “The latest data makes it clearer than ever that London loves cycling.

“Around a quarter of Londoners cycle, around another quarter want to. These figures show that the number of cycling journeys on any day is about a third of all Tube journeys or a quarter of all bus journeys – this is a mainstream mode of transport used by a wider and wider range of Londoners.”

The report, published by TfL, found there had been a 20 per cent increase in Tube travel, to about 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while bus demand was up eight per cent.

Between April and June this year there were 25.7m trips a day on all forms of transport, up four per cent on last year and six per cent lower than 2019.

But the report warned that future demand remained hard to predict. “It is still too early to conclude that the transport recovery from the pandemic has fully run its course, or the extent to which other factors such as cost-of-living pressures are holding back this recovery,” it said.

It said that while the impacts on air quality from the Greater London Ulez expansion in were still being calculated, “this and other complementary measures should mean that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide are expected to be 30 per cent lower in 2025 compared to 2019”.

Hybrid working was blamed for the shortfall in “green” trips – those made by public transport, walked or cycled rather than made by car.

This was 63.2 per cent last year, and could rise to 64 per cent this year once all data is counted – but remains some way off the 80 per cent target by 2041.

However, the green travel rate – the so-called “modal share” – reached 95 per cent in the City of London and was above 80 per cent in Hackney, Westminster, Camden, Tower Hamlets,. Hammersmith & Fulham, Islington, Southwark and Lambeth.

But the outer boroughs of Sutton, Bexley, Havering Barnet and Enfield, where car travel dominates, were all below 50 per cent.

The report said that while London “remains a young city”, with only 11.9 per cent of the population aged 65 or over, the highest growth rates between 2011 and 2021 were in people in their fifties, sixties and seventies.

This could affect future travel patterns as older Londoners are more likely to drive and less likely to use public transport.