More than two in five (44%) UK citizens aged 16 plus never cycle, rising to over half (54%) of women, according to a new study from Savanta.
A third of those surveyed (34%) say they don’t cycle more often because it’s “too dangerous”. The research points to five key worries overall, identified by both cyclists and non-cyclists, as cars (64%), heavy goods vehicles (58%), bad road conditions (54%), buses (50%) and lack of cycle lanes (44%).
The keenest cyclists are amongst Gen Z (aged up to 25 years old), but even a quarter of Gen Z respondents believe it’s too dangerous. Of those in Gen Z who do not cycle regularly, 25% say it’s because they either don’t know how or are not confident in their ability to ride. Another barrier is a concern with how long cycling takes (19%) compared to other forms of transport.
Half of Londoners (50%) who don’t cycle regularly say the main barrier is that it’s too dangerous. Another concern for those in the capital is the risk of bike theft, with 16% saying this is a reason for not cycling more often, higher than anywhere else in the UK.
Of those surveyed who either never cycle, or cycle less than once per month, one in six (17%) say that the main reason for not cycling more often is a lack of cycle lanes. This figure rises to a quarter (23%) in the south of the UK. More cyclists feel safe when cycling for leisure than when cycling to and from work (56% vs 44%), while over half overall (56%) say they dread cycling in traffic.
Overall, nearly three in five (57%) of those who cycle regularly (at least once per month) do so just for leisure, while 17% cycle just to and from work, and a quarter (25%) say they cycle for both reasons. For both leisure and commuting, the main motivator for cycling is the health and fitness benefit, with 61% of leisure cyclists citing this reason compared with 44% of those who cycle as part of their commute to and from work.
While cost is the second-most chosen reason for those who cycle to and from work (44%), simple enjoyment takes second place for “leisure cyclists” (59%). Baby Boomers and Gen Z are more likely to cycle for environmental reasons than any other age demographic, despite being the most concerned age groups around road safety.
A Savanta spokesperson said: “January is a time for resolutions — particularly health-related ones. However, the majority of British adults are actively avoiding cycling —a relatively cheap and convenient form of exercise.
“Our study suggests a lot could be done to encourage more cycling and alleviate safety concerns which are a key factor. Increasing the coverage and quality of cycle lanes would create a safer environment for cycling, as well as separating cyclists from other road users who are seen as the primary cause of unsafe conditions.”
The research was conducted amongst 1,040 people in the UK aged 16-69.
Savanta is part of the Next15 Group.