Highlights from the Annual Cycling Monitoring Report 2022

31 October 2022    

The author of this blog is Rowan Simpson, Monitoring & Development Officer.

In August, Cycling Scotland released our Annual Cycling Monitoring Report 2022. The report provides a national picture of everyday cycling in Scotland as well as snapshots of cycling at a local authority level.  Data in the report can be used to inform and measure the progress of indicators established in the Active Travel Framework.

Gathering the data

Insight in the report spans just under a decade, with data from January 2012 to December 2021, and provides statistics on cycling participation, road safety, access to bikes, and attitudes to cycling. Data is derived from various sources including:

  • Scottish Household Survey 2020
  • Key Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2021
  • Travel and Transport in Scotland 2020

Changes in methodology

The Covid-19 lockdowns meant that the Scottish Household Survey 2020 was forced to switch methodology from face-to-face interviews to a telephone survey. As a result of the change in survey mode, the response rate and sample size were greatly reduced. There was a noticeable change in the profile of respondents - homeowners and people with degree-level qualifications were over-represented. Therefore, it is important to note that the Scottish Household Survey 2020 data included in the report is not directly comparable with previous years.

New for this year: insight into attitudes and behaviours

This year, data highlights from our attitudes & behaviours longitudinal research were included in the report for the first time.

In 2021, the research found that 35% of the population ever cycle either for transport or leisure. This figure has increased over the three waves of research since 2017, while concern about road safety remains to be the most significant barrier preventing people cycling or cycling more often. Women were more likely to choose road safety as a main barrier to cycling or cycling more often than men. 

This corresponds with the Scottish Household Survey 2019 data which found 20.9% of people don’t cycle to work due to concerns about cycling in traffic. Tragically, 10 people were killed and 196 were seriously injured whilst riding a bike in 2021. These statistics further support the evidence-base that the key action needed to make Scotland’s roads safer for everyday cycling is a reduction in traffic and separate cycle infrastructure.

Road safety

Safety statistics in the report show that the highest number of reported casualties of people riding a bicycle occur in areas with 30mph speed limits. On average between 2016 and 2020, there were 439 casualties in areas with a 30mph speed limit, compared to 106 reported casualties of people riding a bike in areas with a 20mph speed limit.

Recent public health research found that the citywide implementation of 20mph speed limits in Edinburgh reduced fatalities by 23%, serious casualties by 33% and slight casualties by 37%. This indicates that speed reduction is an important action in reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads, increasing protection to vulnerable road users, and improving public health.

Access to bikes and storage: a social justice issue

Access to affordable bikes is a priority to help more people cycling in Scotland and therefore improve public health and reduce carbon emissions. In 2020, 45% of households in Scotland had access to one or more bikes for private use. The figure in 2019 was 33.6%. However, while there was a major increase in bike sales during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, these two figures cannot be directly compared due to methodology changes in the Scottish Household Survey.

For those in Scotland who do have access to a bike for private use, having somewhere to store their bike safely and securely is often a challenge. The attitudes & behaviours research found that 20% of the population reported they did not have somewhere they could safely store a bike and 31% of respondents rated ‘nowhere convenient or secure to store a bike’ as a barrier to cycling. These figures support recent research which discovered more than a third of people living in Scotland don’t have a safe place to store their bike at home.

Children cycling to school: urban vs. rural

Results from Living Streets Scotland’s Travel Tracker continue to indicate that a higher proportion of primary school children cycle to school in rural areas than in urban/rural and urban areas (based on the Scottish Government Urban Rural Classification).

These findings were echoed in Sustrans’ Hands Up Scotland Survey 2021 research, with rural local authorities, Highland and Shetland, showing the second and third highest percentage of children cycling to school in 2020 with rates of 9.5% and 7.6%, respectively.

Evidence-led decision making

The Scottish Government is providing record funding to active travel, with £150 million committed in 2022/23 and £320 million, or 10% of the transport budget, to be invested by 2024/25. As this investment increases, tracking and reporting on local authority active travel budget data is more important than ever; we had a positive response rate from 28 of 32 Scottish local authorities who provided their financial data, the highest response rate to date.

We continue to monitor and report on active travel data through our National Monitoring Framework, Cycling Open Data portal and attitudes and behaviours research, all of which support and inform decision-making.

Find out more about our monitoring work.

We’d like to thank all partners who have provided content for the Annual Cycling Monitoring Report 2022, enabling us to create as comprehensive a picture as possible of cycling in Scotland.