Cycling facts and figures

We’re still building up our database of facts and figures, and will publish more statistics in the near future. 

If you’re looking for a particular fact or figure and can’t find it below, don’t hesitate to send us an email and we’ll help you out.


Bicycle usage

The graph below shows the evolution of the percentage of people who answered “cycling” to the question of the Eurobarometer: “On a typical day, which mode of transport do you most often?”

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Bicycle usage – Children

Across the globe, the percentage of kids that walk or cycle to school has decreased from 82% to
14% within the last 30 years.

Source: McDonald, N.C. 2012, Children and cycling, p235-257 in Cycling City, Pucher, J. and Buehler, R. 2012, City cycling, MIT, Cambridge, MA. 

Bicycle usage – EU Capitals

EU Capitals                          Cycling modal share Year                  
Copenhagen 35% 2010
Amsterdam 32% 2012
Berlin 13% 2008
Ljubjana 12% 2013
Helsinki 11% 2013
Zagreb 10.1% 2012
Stockholm 9% 2013
Dublin 7.9% 2013
Vienna 6% 2013
Riga 4% 2014
Brussels 3.5% 2013
Luxembourg 3.5% 2011
Sofia 3% 2010
Nicosia 2% 2010
Paris  2% (2nd source: 5%) 2013
Athens 2% 2005
Budapest 2% 2014
Bratislava 2% 2012
London 2% 2009
Prague 1% 2013
Tallinn 1% 2012
Vilnius 1% 2010
Warsaw 1% 2009
Lisbon 1% 2013
Bucharest 1% 2007
Rome 0.6% 2012
Madrid 0% 2011
La Valetta NA NA

Reasons for using a bicycle

According to the Special Eurobarometer 422a (2014), convenience (49%) and speed (27%) are the first reasons why Europeans chose to cycle but cyclists are much more likely than users of other modes of transport to consider the price (24%) and the environmental impact (22%) to explain their choice. 

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Special Eurobarometer 422a, Quality of transport, 2014 

Health benefits

The health benefits of cycling outweigh the safety risks by a factor of 20 to one.

Source – Hillman, M., 1992 in Cavill, N., and Davis, A., 2007, Cycling & Health: What’s the evidence, Cycling, England.

 

Cyclists on average live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15% fewer days off work through illness.

Source – CTC, Safety in numbers – halving the risk of cycling, p4, CTC, Surrey.

 

An adult who cycles regularly will typically have a level of fitness equivalent to being 10 years younger.

Source – Tuxworth, B. 1986, Quality control. Sport and Leisure, 1986 Vol. 27 No. 3 pp. 32-33

 

Countries with the highest levels of cycling and walking generally have the lowest obesity rates.

Source – Bassett, Jr., et al., 2008  Walking, cycling, and obesity rates in Europe, North America, and Australia, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 5, 795-814.

 

Cycling has a positive effect on emotional health – improving levels of well-being, self-confidence and tolerance to stress while reducing tiredness, difficulties with sleep and a range of medical symptoms

Source –  Boyd, H., Hillman, M., Nevill, A., Pearce, A. and Tuxworth, B. (1998). Health-related effects of regular cycling on a sample of previous non-exercisers, Resume of main findings.

 

People cycling to work ‘mortality rate is 28% below the average population.

Source: OECD, Better Life Index, Paris, France 

Enviromental benefits

When the complete life cycle of the following modes are taken into account, the carbon emissions are approximately:

  • Bicycle, 21 g CO2/passenger/km traveled
  • Electric-assist bicycle, 22 g CO2/passenger/km traveled
  • Passenger car, 271 g CO2/passenger/km traveled
  • Bus, 101 CO2/passenger/km traveled

Source : European Cyclists’ Federation, 2011 ,Cycle more often 2 cool down the planet: Quantifying CO2 savings of cycling. P15, ECF, Brussels.

 

A bicycle commuter who rides 8 Km to work, four days a week, avoids 3220 Km of driving a year, the equivalent of 380 L of gasoline saved and 750Kg of CO2 emissions avoided.

Source: Thomas gotschi, Ph .D . and Kevin Mills, J .D 2008, Active Transportation for America – The Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking, p23, Rails to trails conservancy, Washington DC.

Safety

Cycling isn’t as risky as commonly thought, with just one death every 32 million kilometres – that’s over 800 times around the world.

 source – CTC, Safety in numbers – halving the risk of cycling, p4. 

Safety in numbers

Countries with the lowest levels of cycle use have the poorest cyclist safety records.

 
In a study of 115 cities in the US and Denmark, as well in 14 European countries, it was found that motorists are less likely to hit cyclists and pedestrians when there are more people cycling or walking.  It appears that motorists adjust their behaviour in the presence of people cycling.

Source – Jacobsen PL. 2003, Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling. Injury Prevention, 2003;9:205-209

 

The relationship between the number of cyclists and the number of casualties among cyclists involved in car accident is inverse. (The more cyclists, the less accidents among them).

 Source – Hydén, C., A. Nilson & R. Risser (1998), WALCYNG. How to enhance WALking and CYcliNG instead of shorter car trips and make these modes safer. European Commission: WALCYNG.

For more info – ECF Factsheet – safety in numbers

Helmet legislation

Drivers overtaking cyclists passed an average of 8.5 cm closer to those wearing helmets.

Source: Walker, I. 2007, Drivers overtaking bicyclists: Objective data on the effects of riding position, helmet use, vehicle type and apparent gender, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 39, Issue 2, March 2007, Pages 417-425.

 

When Australia introduced mandatory cycle helmet law. Bicycle usage dropped by 30%. 

source – Robinson DL. Safety in numbers in Australia: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2005;16:47-51

 

The relationship between the number of cyclists and the number of casualties among cyclists involved in car accident is inverse. (The more cyclists, the less accidents among them).

Source – Hydén, C., A. Nilson & R. Risser (1998), WALCYNG. How to enhance WALking and CYcliNG instead of shorter car trips and make these modes safer. European Commission: WALCYNG.

Main problems and best solutions

The  the Special Eurobarometer 422a (2014) asked Europeans what they consider to be the most serious problems affecting the roads and the priorities to improve road safety. Below, you find the answers of the cyclists compared to the average answers.

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The partly-deleted answers are “Stricter control on the use of electronic devices while driving” and “Easy and timely access to traffic information when  travelling”

Eurobarometer 422a, Quality of transport, 2014 

Bicycle Sales

Source: European Bicycle Market 2010 Edition, COLIBI-COLIPED

 

Cargo bikes – bicycle logistics

25% of all urban goods could be delivered by bicycle. This figure rises to 50% when we are refering to light goods.

ECF, Factsheet – cycling logistics: the future of goods delivery.

Integrating cycling and public transport

By integrating cycling into a daily commute, one can increase the catchment area of public transport hubs. By adding a 10 minute cycle for instance, one can increase the catchment area of a bus stop up to 15 folds: 35km2 rather than just 2 km2.

In the Flemish region of Belgium 22% of all trips to the station are made by bicycle. In the Netherlands, 39% of journeys to the train station are done by bike. 

Supervised storage and basic bicycle racks are a common standard in many Dutch train stations. There are 93 cycle stations with an average of 1,000 bicycles bicycle spaces, but in some cases up to 10,000.

For more information:

ECF – Factsheet – Marrying cycling and public transport

Bike sharing schemes

 By the begining of 2012, they were 400 bike sharing schemes globally.

Velib’, the Parisian bike sharing scheme, launched in 2007, now has 20 000 bicycles and 1800 bike stations (one every 300 m). They are 40 000- 120 000 bike trips done every day using Velib’.

For more information on bike sharing schemes:

ECF – factsheet – The rise of bike sharing schemes

Economic benefits of cycle tourism

Cycling is good for the rural economy. A visiting cyclist spends an average of £25/day on locally provided food and services, compared to car-borne visitor’s £7.30. Car users bring what they’ll need with them, whereas cyclists can’t. Because of the exercise: cyclists feel hungrier when they stop and that they’ve earned the right to pamper themselves.

Source: CTC’s new vision for cycling 

Last Updated February 13, 2015