Cycle to Work Day is a national event that aims to “encourage everyone to take to two wheels and cycle to work for at least one day.”
According to the National Travel Survey: England 2014:
- around 8% of us cycle three or more times a week;
- 44% of us own or have access to a bicycle;
- men make more than three times as many cycle trips as women;
- those of us aged between 16-44 cycle most frequently.
How Many Of Us Cycle To Work?
In 2011, more than 740,000 people aged 16-74 cycled to work in England and Wales. Although this was an increase of 90,000 on the number of people who cycled to work in 2001, it still only represented a meagre 2.8% of the population.
That year, the number of Londoners taking to the saddle for their daily commute more than doubled from 77,000 in 2001 to 155,000 in 2011. Substantial increases were also seen in Brighton, Bristol, Newcastle and Sheffield. Cambridge has a higher rate than any other local authority with 29% of its working population cycling to work, ahead of Oxford at 17%.
Last year, a record 183,423 people took part in the Government's 'Cycle to Work Scheme' - a tax-exemption initiative that allows employers to loan bicycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit.
According to the census data, 760,000 people across the UK cycle to work regularly. Cycle traffic has been growing steadily since 2008 and each year Cycle to Work Day aims to increase the number of people cycling to work so that by 2021 one million people will regularly commute to work by bike.
In both 2013 and 2014, thousands of people covered more than 500,000 miles by taking to two wheels on Cycle to Work Day. Cycle advocacy groups such as the UK’s national cycling charity the CTC along with hundreds of employers have pledged their support and done their best to encourage colleagues, friends and family to give cycling a go.
Why Should You Cycle More?
Regular cycling is fantastic exercise and can improve people’s fitness and mental health as well as reduce the risk of premature death and ill health. In addition, cycling is cheap compared to taking the train or filling your car up and it’s also one of the easiest ways of fitting exercise into your daily routine as it doubles up as a means of transport.
According to the CTC, people who cycle regularly typically enjoy fitness levels equivalent to someone 10 years younger and their life expectancy is two years above the average. A recent YouGov survey revealed that nearly half of us live within just five miles or less from our place of work. This is a mere 30 minute ride from home. The same survey also reveals that those of us who cycle to work are far less likely to be frustrated by their commute than those driving or using public transport.
On average, regular cycle commuters take more than one day per year less off sick than colleagues who do not cycle to work. Generally speaking, cycling burns around five calories a minute although this will naturally differ according to someone’s weight, age and how fast they cycle. Someone who weighs around 12 stone will burn more than 650 calories with an hour’s cycling.
According to various studies the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks of injury between 13:1 and 415:1. People who don’t commute to work by bike have a 39% higher mortality rate than those who do.
How Dangerous is Cycling?
The public perception of the dangers of cycling is a long way from the truth.
- Cycling is safer than gardening. According to ROSPA figures, 300,000 people are hospitalised each year in Britain following injuries sustained whilst gardening. This compares to the 19,000 injured while cycling;
- According to a University College London study, cycling is five times safer than driving for young male drivers between the ages of 17-20;
- There has been a 40% reduction in the number of cyclists killed on our roads since 1994;
- According to Transport for London data, although the number of serious or fatal cycling accidents has risen slightly in London over the last few years, the number of cyclists has increased by 150%;
- There is one fatal cycling accident for every 27 million miles travelled by bike.
By increasing the number of people regularly cycling to work each week, collective pedal power may prompt central government and councils to do more to improve cycle safety across the country.
There is a huge amount of work being done to improve cycle safety in the UK but there is still a long way to do in terms of segregating cyclists, educating drivers, and doing more to implement better cycling infrastructure.
Some tips our cycling accident solicitors can offer to minimise the risk of injury to existing cyclists as well as those who may be thinking of taking up cycling, include:
- Never run red lights unless your life or limbs are directly threatened by staying put;
- Be aware of what is behind you before overtaking, stopping or turning;
- Always signal when turning left or right;
- Obey lane markings and road signs;
- Watch out for car doors opening in your path when overtaking stationary cars;
- Don’t use in-ear headphones while cycling;
- Don’t cycle two abreast on busy or narrow roads;
- Wear a helmet even if others say it will make no difference in a serious collision;
- Don’t ride on the pavement unless there are specific signs allowing you to do so;
- Never cycle or wait on the left of HGVs or large vehicles, especially near junctions;
- Don’t wait directly in front of lorries at junctions. Instead, position yourself well forward of the cab so that the driver can easily see you.
Richard Gaffney is Slater and Gordon’s principal lawyer for Cycling UK (previously CTC), the national cycling charity.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide you with free legal advice on cycling accident claims in an online guide that you can download and print.
Call us for a free consultation on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.