Latest news from Loughborough University

22 Sep 2015

Study shows Cycle Network gets people on their bikes

The National Cycle Network is encouraging more people to cycle more often according to figures unveiled by Loughborough University researchers.

Professor Paul Downward from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and Dr Simona Rasciute from the School of Business and Economics studied entries from Sport England’s Active People Survey (APS) and found proximity to the Network was a strong driver for regularly taking part in moderate intensity recreational cycling for 30 minutes or more, as well as short cycle commutes.

And people who cycled recreationally were also more likely to take part in other forms of physical activity. 

The study also found:  

  • Cyclists are far more active than non-cyclists, undertaking almost 30% more minutes of walking and 80% more minutes of sports participation.

  • Cyclists are more likely to be white British, be in work or studying, have a higher education, and be younger and male.

  • Family life reduces the likelihood of utilitarian cycling (i.e. commuting) but the presence of children can increase the potential for recreational cycling.   

  • Utilitarian cycling is closely linked to increased walking time.

Lead researcher Professor Downward said: 

“It is clear that the National Cycle Network has a strong effect on the amount of time people spend cycling, whether that’s for recreational or transport purposes.

“Not only does greater access to the Network imply that people cycle for longer, but they also cycled more frequently.

“Our data shows the potential of the Network in helping encourage people to be more active and lead healthier lifestyles.”

Melissa Henry, Sustrans Communications and Marketing Director, said:

“It should come as no surprise that when people have safer, quieter cycle routes near to them, they will use them. We have seen this across the National Cycle Network since Sustrans first developed it 20 years ago.

“Clearly there is an appetite from people to ride their bikes and walk more of their journeys, they just need the right environment to do it, which is why we’re calling on the government to commit to funding for cycling and walking to be equivalent of 5% of the transport budget. Only by increasing funding can we hope to bring cycling to everyone’s doorstep, whatever their age, sex or background.”

The paper Assessing the impact of the National Cycle Network and physical activity lifestyle on cycling behaviour in England has been published in Volume 78 of Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.


Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 15/179

  1. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

  2. Sustrans is the charity that’s enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. In 1995 the charity first developed the National Cycle Network which is now over 14,000 miles long, linking villages, towns and cities across the UK. For more information visit

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Amanda Overend
PR Manager
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697