Cycling worth £3bn a year to UK economy

  • Cycling worth £3bn a year to UK economy, says study by London School of Economics
  • Report by the LSE says industry employs 23,000 and generates £500m for the state annually, as manufacturers see sales rise by 28%

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

cycle Cycling generates nearly £3bn a year for the UK economy, according to this report from the London School of Economics and this figure includes £51m in revenue for British manufacturers from the 3.7m cycles sold in 2010 – a rise of 28% on 2009.

The gross cycling contribution of £2.9bn for the economy takes into account factors

such as bicycle manufacturing, cycle and accessory retail and cycle-related employment, such as mechanics, etc. The latter is something we need more of; mechanics, I mean.

Commissioned by the broadcaster Sky and British Cycling, the report said every cyclist in the UK has a "gross cycling product" of £233 annually.

Employing around 23,000 people, the UK cycling sector made a £500m employment contribution in 2010, including more than £100m in income tax and National Insurance contributions last year, the report said. A total of 208m cycle journeys were made in 2010, with a net addition of 1.3m more cyclists taking to their bikes compared to the previous year, bringing the total to 13m.

Of these new cyclists, half a million are now cycling regularly. New cyclists alone contributed £685m to the UK economy, with existing regular cyclists representing a total market value of £635m. The report also showed that regular cyclists take 7.4 sick days per year, compared with 8.7 sick days for non-cyclists.

It added that a 20% increase in cycling by 2015 would save the economy £207m in reduced traffic congestion, £71m in lower pollution levels and £52m in NHS costs.

Dr Alexander Grous, of the LSE, who conducted the research, said: "The good news is that structural, economic, social and health factors seem finally to have created a true step-change in the UK's cycling scene."

Transport minister, Theresa Villiers, said that the government is committed to encouraging cycling as a healthy and enjoyable way of getting around. It helps reduce congestion, gives children more opportunities for exercise, and it can play a part in the fight against climate change. But, as said before, the shame is just that the government will not put its money where its mouth is and will not invest in proper cycle lanes and -routes.

The “cycle super highway” of Boris Johnson & Co is a laughable exercise that is making it even more dangerous for cyclist than before, as every idiot uses the lanes as a nice parking spot. Only when we take on board the good examples from abroad, such as from NYC, and other places, where the lanes are physically separated from the traffic, will it be safe enough for more people to take the bike to work.

In addition to that we should make it not just acceptable but legal to, as long as it is done with consideration, to use the ordinary sidewalks for cycling. It can be done when cyclists, especially, are considerate and do not insist on a right of way that is not theirs.

There is still much to be done in Britain for cycling to be taken up even more, especially as to cycling commute and cycling to school.

What this report shows clearly is that when more people get involved in cycling there are measurable benefits to the individual, their family, their employer, the environment and the economy as whole. And aside from savings for the individual, etc., the health will also benefit greatly as other studies have shown.

Vice-chairman of the all party parliamentary cycling group, Ian Austin MP, said that this is an important report that shows that encouraging greater participation in cycling can bring not only social but also economic benefits for Britain.

The noises and words that seem to come from our Houses of Parliament always are positive towards cycling and many a MP can at times actually be sen using a bike but that still does not mean anything as far as provisions across the country are concerned.

Other countries are much better in that league and I do not, necessarily, want to mention the Dutch and the Danes here, or the Germans, but the truth is that in those countries and others on the European mainland cycling seems to be much more understood and always has been.

Personally, I must say that I probably do not contribute much to the cycling economy even though I am a cyclist and do not have a car. But as I do a lot of my own tinkering and rebuilding of bicycles and cannibalizing old found bikes for parts I do not spend all that much money on bits and don't intend to if I don't have to.

To me this study comes as no surprise as I have seen the increase in the amount of cycles using the local park routes as lanes to go to and from work, to school, and the shops. And, as far as I am concerned, it is a pleasant sight indeed.

It is my firm belief that in the not so distant future the majority of us will be returning to the bicycle as primary mode of transport aside from our feet as, put simply, gasoline and diesel for our cars will just be far too expensive for the daily use. The Planet would also, I am sure, thank us should this happen.

© 2011