Transport for London (TfL) conducted the biggest mass census of cyclists to date and found that bikes make up 24% of all vehicles on the streets during the city’s morning rush hour. This new statistic gives traction to cycling advocates who demand better infrastructure, as it proves that cyclists are no longer just a small minority. London’s new cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan summed it up by saying: “cycling is clearly a mass mode of transport in central London and until now it hasn’t been treated as such. Nearly all provision for cycling is based on the presumption that hardly anyone cycles, that you can make do with shoving cyclists to the side of the road and that just clearly is wrong.”
The census showed that bikes account for 64% of the vehicles on Theobolds Road near Holborn. And at Elephant and Castle, a notoriously difficult roundabout for bikes, 903 cyclists per hour were recorded heading north to the city center between 7am and 9am. London’s bridges also see a lot of cycling traffic, which is not surprising as they are the only way cyclists can cross the river. London Bridge, for example, averaged 660 bikes per hour over the entire day, between 6am and 8pm, accounting for 47% of the total vehicles on the bridge.
Despite the huge presence of bikes on the road, cycling proponents point out that spending on cycling remains a minuscule percentage of the transportation budget. London Mayor Boris Johnson has proposed a cycling master plan that will cost $1.5 billion, but advocates worry that it will get slashed in the upcoming Treasury cuts. Gilligan remains optimistic and says that though the sticker price on the cycling master plan may seem high, it’s still a small portion of the TfL’s overall budget.
The fact that cyclists make up nearly a quarter of all vehicles on the road during rush hour – even the cramped and crowded streets of London – indicates that a lot more people would hop on their bicycle given the right conditions. The London Cycling Campaign’s chief executive, Dr Ashok Sinha says, “the latest cycling figures from TfL simply underline that, given the right circumstances, a large proportion of London’s population would opt to cycle to work. The ultimate goal must be to enable people of all ages and backgrounds to feel safe enough to cycle for everyday local journeys, not just commuters.”
Via The Guardian