Number of people cycling in England has decreased over the past year, finds survey

Sport England 'Active Lives' survey shows a drop in the number of people cycling

Newly-published results of Sport England's latest 'Active Lives' survey concludes that the number of people cycling regularly in England has dropped over the past year.

Sport England polled just under 200,000 people to see what sort of exercise they did and how often they did it from November 2016 to November 2017.

The results showed that the number of people cycling regularly for sport or leisure has decreased by 93,000 to 5 million. However, the number of those cycling as a method of commuting has stayed level at 3.2 million.

In contrast, the number of people taking part in HIIT sessions has increased dramatically, up 518,000 year-on-year to 2.4 million.

Sport England says that this change is due to people "moving with the times" when it comes to choosing which exercise they do.

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Jennie Price, Sport England chief executive, said: “While the overall activity levels of the nation are stable, what people are choosing to do is moving with the times.

“The popularity of HIIT shows the power of social media, and many older people are choosing to spend their leisure time in the great outdoors.

“Sport England has worked closely with the National Trust, the Forestry Commission and others to support more activity outdoors, and this remains a significant area of investment for us."

The survey results show that 61.8 per cent of the population aged 16 or over are classed as 'active' – which is defined as doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week.

Conversely, 25.7 per cent of people were found to be inactive, doing less than 30 minutes per week of activity. Both of the figures show no change from the previous year's survey.

Sport England also concluded that "people on lower incomes and disabled people are still much less likely to be active enough to benefit their health", which the organisation is seeking to address.

Price said: “The figures show the huge importance of investing to tackle inactivity and the inequalities between different groups in society, which was highlighted in the Government’s strategy Sporting Future.

"It's why Sport England's 2017-21 strategy has, for the first time, allocated 25 per cent of its investment to tackling inactivity.

"This is a long-term task but it could not be more important."

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Nigel Wynn
Former Associate Editor

Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, an exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.