Cycling is rapidly growing in popularity in the UK. In England alone, just over five million people participated in cycling in 2016. This figure jumped to over 7.5 million in 2022. Here’s a rundown of the benefits of getting in the saddle.

Stay Healthy and Help the NHS

Cycling helps to save the NHS money by keeping people fit and protecting against ill-health. Since the pandemic, people have become increasingly conscious of the NHS’ crucial role in our lives. A poll taken during the 2020 lockdowns revealed that British people believed the best way they could assist the NHS was by getting more exercise and staying healthier. Taking exercise polled ahead of cutting down on smoking and drinking and improving diet.

Riding a road bike is a healthy, fun and low-impact form of exercise. It can help to protect against diseases such as stroke, some cancers, heart attack, depression, obesity and diabetes. All these conditions put a strain on the NHS if allowed to escalate. A 2022 report by Frontier Economics estimated that the annual NHS spend on obesity-related diseases was £6.5 billion. But, combined with a healthy eating plan, cycling is a good way to control or reduce weight by raising your metabolic rate, building muscle and burning body fat.

Better for The Economy

Investing in making towns and cities more accessible to cyclists can reap economic benefits. Evidence suggests that investment helps the local and national economy by boosting high streets, retail and tourism. A town centre optimised for walking and cycling can encourage a spend per square metre 2.5 times higher than a typical urban centre, and providing cycle parking delivers five times higher retail spend per square metre than the same area of car parking.

BIDs [Business Improvement Districts] report that a good environment for cycling is important for business performance. Statistics back up this up. The BCR (benefit to cost ratio) for every £1 invested in cycling and walking returns an average of around £5-£6.

More Cyclists, Less Traffic

Cities are congested. Research in 2022 found it takes an average of 36 minutes and 20 seconds to drive just 6.2 miles in the centre of London. In 2023, the capital, for the second year in a row, was rated the most congested city in the world, according to traffic experts at INRIX Research. Most tellingly, London drivers lost an average of 156 hours annually twiddling their thumbs, sitting in congestion.

Separated cycle paths, in particular, ease congestion for those who need to use cars. A study by the Greater London Authority showed that bike lanes moved five times as many people per hour as car lanes. It’s a case of too many motor vehicles and too few people in them. There is contrary evidence that cycle lanes can adversely affect the movement of rush hour traffic – by providing less road space for cars. But overall, throughout the day, it seems that more people move per hour in cities when cycle lanes are present.

Liam O'Connor

With over 20 years of experience in landscape architecture, Liam O'Connor, a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, has been enriching our content with his knowledge since 2020. Before joining us, he ran a successful landscaping firm and served as a consultant for urban greening projects. Liam's passion for creating vibrant outdoor spaces is evident in his detailed guides and tips. In his leisure time, he enjoys mountain biking and photography, often capturing the landscapes he adores.

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