Cycling pumps £2.9bn a year into economy

Cycling generates nearly £3bn a year for the UK economy, a report from the London School of Economics (LSE) has found.

The figure includes £51m in revenue for British manufacturers from the 3.7 million cycles sold in 2010 – a rise of 28 per cent on the number sold in 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.

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Published yesterday by broadcaster Sky and British Cycling – when thousands of riders took the streets of Hull for a mass participation cycling event staged by both organisations – 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 208 million cycle journeys were made in 2010, with a net addition of 1.3 million more cyclists taking to their bikes compared to the previous year, bringing the total to 13 million.

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 for non-cyclists, saving around £128m through reduced absenteeism, with projected savings of £2bn over the next 10 years.

Dr Alexander Grous, 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.”

A survey by the National Lottery published today described Hull as the “cycling capital of the UK”.

The research, which examined the nation’s exercise habits, found that people in the Hull area were more likely to get on their bikes for exercise than those in other cities. A total of 26 per cent of adults living in or near Hull cycle regularly, compared to the national average of just 10 per cent.