Londoners lead the way for cycle commuting and taking public transport to work

Hackney has seen the biggest increase in cycling across England and Wales, while public transport use has increased across Greater London more than anywhere else, according to a new study.

This is the result of new research on commuting journeys in the 2011 census data by Dr Anna Goodman, Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and follows other reports showing a decline in car use over the same period.


In Greater London, 4.3% of commutes were made on bicycle, up by 1.7% since 2001, making London the highest cycling region of England and Wales.

In Hackney the number of commuting cyclists increased more than any other local authority in the country, with 15.4 % of all commuters cycling in 2011, up 8.6% since 2001.

Cycling to work increased in 29 out of 33 Greater London boroughs, with Islington (10.1%, up 5.0%), City of London (6%, up 4.1%), Lambeth (8.5%, up 4.0%) and Southwark (7.7%, up 3.8%) closely following Hackney’s lead.

The London figures compare with 3.1% of all journeys to work were made on bicycle across England and Wales, an increase of just 0.1% since 2001.

Dr Goodman from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “London has seen an impressive increase in the proportion of people opting to cycle to work. Most interestingly, we are starting to see more affluent people cycling to work, which bucks the trend of the wealthiest usually being in their cars while those less well-off walk, cycle or use public transport.”

Public transport use up, car use down

Public transport use increased more in Greater London than any other region, with 53.4% of all commuters choosing public transport in 2011, up by 7.3% since 2001.

19 of the top 20 local authorities with the biggest increase in public transport commuters were in Greater London, with Newham (67.8% of people used public transport to commute, up by 11.0% since 2001), Hounslow (43.0%, up 10.2%), Greenwich (58.0%, up 9.2%), Harrow (44.3%, up 9.1%) and Barking and Dagenham (48.7%, up 8.9%) topping the table.

Across England and Wales, public transport commuting made up just 17.8% of commutes, up by 1.8% since 2001.

The proportion of car use for commuting in Greater London fell across all boroughs, with just 32.2% of commuters using the car to get to work in 2011, down 8.8% since 2001.

Dr Goodman added, “As a lifelong Southwark resident, I’m proud to see London leading the way – and to see that Transport for London recognises there's also still much more do to.

"This gives me some hope that people are travelling in the right direction towards creating a healthier and more environmentally sustainable transport system.”

Although cycling often gets more attention from policy-makers interested in encouraging people to do more exercise, the findings also suggest that walking should be considered a priority, with 9.0% of journeys to work made on foot in Greater London, and many more doing significant amounts of walking during public transport commutes.