The latest usage figures from the National Cycle Network have revealed a significant rise in women and commuters.
In 2010 women made up 40 per cent of all journeys on the network, with the number of females up 13 per cent on 2009 figures.
Petrol prices are thought to have encouraged cyclists to take to the network and ride to work in 2010. 25 per cent of journeys were commuting and work related, increasing the number of journeys by ten per cent from 2009.
A whopping 420 million journeys were made on the National Cycle Network in 2010. The numbers take into account journeys made on foot (204 million) and by bike (216 million).
A quarter of all trips were daily trips.
Based on a petrol cost of £1.35, if the commuter journeys had been made by car they would have cost over £46 million in petrol. The potential carbon dioxide saving equated to 657,000 tonnes in 2010.
“It is very encouraging to see more women using the Network and clearly with petrol prices at new highs, it is being chosen as a valid alternative way to make those everyday journeys like commuting to work or doing the school run,“ commented Sustrans chief exec Malcolm Shepherd.
With nearly three million people using the network in 2010, and two million of whom saying they are more physically active because of it, the estimated total health benefits to people using the NCN is at nearly £400,000,000, Sustrans said.
Shepherd added: “Investing in walking and cycling may not be as exciting or headline-grabbing as building electric cars or stretching cable cars across the Thames, but unlocking their potential, as an obvious choice for more people every day, is the future of local transport and a more active population. It is vital that government, through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, invests in high quality walking and cycling routes, cycle training and projects that encourage and help people to leave their car at home, especially for those local journeys that make up 67 per cent of all trips.”
The NCN project began in 1995 and now stretches over 13,000 miles in the UK.
Yesterday British Cycling launched Breeze – an initiative to boost the numbers of women on bikes. Last week fashion brand Red or Dead teamed up with Raleigh to produce a range of fashion bikes designed to appeal to young women.