Sunday 10 February 2013

A couple of maps showing where in London cycling commuting did and didn't grow between 2001 and 2011

A couple of weeks ago I posted a map showing the mix of commuting modes by ward in London from the 2011 Census, and this week I'd like to focus on the change in cycling levels since 2001. The maps below (click here and here for PDF versions) show the change in cycling, again at ward level, first the change in the number of people cycling to work in each ward and then the change in cycling's share of all commuting. I've included both because the numerical increase is interesting but can be distorted by differences in population growth.

In both maps the yellow areas represent areas of decline, the greens no change or moderate growth, and the blues higher rates of growth.

Growth in cycling commuting is concentrated in inner London and the South West, with the greatest increase in both proportional and absolute terms in Hackney. A couple of other patterns jump out: the rich boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea are exceptions to the inner London rule, showing very little growth in cycling over the last decade, probably due to a combination of car-friendly policies and demographic factors. Newham also stands out as showing very little growth, suggesting that the river Lee or rather its crossings may be quite a significant barrier, hopefully something the new superhighway will address. South of the river there look to be pockets of high growth, in numerical terms at least, along the routes of Cycle Superhighways 7 and 8 and in a few other areas.

But while most of inner London saw pretty good growth in cycling over the decade, Hackney is clearly the star of the show. In 2001 4,940 people in Hackney said they cycled to work. By 2011 that had more than trebled to 17,312. Hackney's workforce grew at the same time, but there was a big increase in cycling's commuting mode share too, from 6.8% in 2001 to 15.4% in 2011 (in both cases excluding those working from home). In five wards cycling's mode share grew by more than ten percentage points. As Cyclists in the City pointed out, more people commute by bike in Hackney than by car or van.

There's an interesting debate to be had about whether the Hackney trend is due to demographics (an influx of young carless people), the emergence of a fairly localised pro-cycling sub-culture, or Hackney council's approach to road safety. Danny says here it's about policies and I've no doubt they're an important factor, but in my admittedly partial experience cycling in Hackney is no better than in Islington so I suspect demographics and culture have played a role too. We may know a bit more when more detailed Census data on who is cycling where comes out later in the year.


  1. If you compare Newham and the other East London boroughs, there's a couple of factors- the Olympics disrupted the Greenway system and the canal paths in Newham, but much less in Tower hamlets and Hackney. The Greenway provided local routes, whereas cycle super highways tend to be arterial in and out of central London. Newham has adequate arterial train lines (Central line, District, plus main-lines to Fenchurch St and Liverpool St). Hackney just doesn't, so people who commute into Central London have to choose between cycling and the slower bus.

    The population movement into and out of Newham is also consistently much higher then Hackney or Tower Hamlets- perhaps cycling is a choice of permanent residents rather than more temporary?

    The cycle super highways from Stratford into town have been blighted by fairly publicised fatalities at Bow Flyover, certainly one of the most dangerous places to cycle in the inner city. It compares with the Old Street roundabout, yet there drivers expect dozens of cyclists whereas they're much less educated at Bow.

    Lastly, leaving unemployment out, this graph would be really interesting cross-referenced with WHERE people work. I have a feeling a lot more people commute to Zone 1 from Hackney and Tower Hamlets than from Newham or Waltham Forest? It's clear that as you look out to the suburbs, people are driving, which implies they work locally or have a perimeter commute. But Newham has the lowest number of car drivers per head of all London boroughs. Where are they commuting to? xx

  2. Don't need to tell you they're great maps by the way- it's clear from the fact that I'm sitting here in Egypt musing over them...

  3. Nice to see that my Outer-London "Biking Borough" is doing so bad. One reduction is right where there is a lovely stuffed TfL roundabout! I think 2013/14 is all about radical schemes and sod it if the Highways Committee throws them out!


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