Cycling is worth an annual £2bn to the UK economy, says a new statistical marketing report commissioned by the Bicycle Association. But, warns the BA, signs of reducing cycle use mean that urgent measures will be needed to arrest the decline. "We need to get more people cycling," stressed BA operations director Steve Garidis.
The members-only Economic value of the bicycle industry and cycling has been produced for the BA by data consultancy SQW. This uses government statistics, consumer trends data, travel survey data and bespoke surveys to generate rolling economic assessments of the cycle industry.
Garidis said there will be "hard decisions" ahead for the UK cycle industry as it grapples with a potentially shrinking market, and there will be additional challenges such as Brexit.
The SQW analysis shows importance of cycling’s contribution to the UK economy. “The total annual 'gross value added' of cycling and its principal related industries is well over £1bn per annum at a conservative estimate, and it is probably much higher,” enthused Garidis, adding that "the cycling industry makes possible at least £1bn of additional health benefits per year.”
But the economic analysis also points to worrying trends which the industry must work to influence, said Garidis, including a decline in the number of children with access to cycles, and an over-reliance on enthusiasts.
The UK market for cycles also shrank in 2016, according to customs statistics. Figures from HMRC reveal that imports of cycle fell by 11 percent to 3 million units. The UK market has been importing about 3.5 million bikes a year since 2012.
Garidis also said advocacy was needed to shape the policies and regulations that impact on cycling, said Garidis. Outreach projects would aim to get people cycling more often, and promotion would be required to "sell cycling" to those not already pedalling.
Later this year the BA plans to launch the Bicycle Industry Fund to fund "Start Cycling" promotions.
"We will be calling for all cycle industry businesses to participate in this fund," said Garidis. The aim will be to raise £500,000 per year.
“There is a compelling case for the industry to pull together to get more people to start cycling," concluded Garidis