Saving money a key motivation for people to consider cycling in 2022

1 December 2022    


Fourth wave of Cycling Scotland’s longitudinal research shows how attitudes around cycling in Scotland have changed since 2017.


  • Low cost was cited as much more common reason for cycling in 2022 (29%) than in 2021 (17%)
  • One in ten (12%) report cycling for some journeys at least once a week
  • More than four in five people (83%) say that being able to combine exercise and transport is a highly motivating factor for cycling more often
  • Safety concerns remain barrier to cycling, with two-thirds (69%) saying they would be more likely to consider cycling if there was less traffic on the roads
  • Gender gap remains – women would be more likely to consider cycling if there was less traffic on the roads (77% vs. 63% of men) and if they were more confident cycling (49% vs. 30% of men)

More than two thirds (69%) of people who would consider cycling say that saving money is one of their main motivations for cycling more often, an increase on last year (58% in 2021), a study by the nation’s cycling organisation has found.

At the same time, cost factors were cited by many more people as a reason for choosing to cycle in 2022 (29%) than in 2021 (17%).

Previously released every two years, the now annual independent research commissioned by Cycling Scotland – the nation’s cycling organisation – and funded by Transport Scotland, sets out to track attitudes towards cycling. More than 1,000 people (1,037) across Scotland were interviewed face-to-face in September and October 2022.

The study, released today (1 December 2022), found that the lower cost of cycling has become more central in people’s thinking in 2022, reflecting the financial constraints many people are experiencing through the current the cost-of-living crisis.

In addition to more than two thirds seeing saving money as a motivation for cycling more often, the number of people who said it was their single biggest motivating factor more than doubled in the last year, from 8% in 2021 to 20% in 2022.

There was evidence of widespread recognition of cycling’s many benefits to individuals, with more than four in five people (83%) saying that being able to combine exercise and transport was also a highly motivating factor for cycling more often.

There has also been a trend towards higher level of agreement around cycling’s benefits for the environment over time, with four in five people (80%) saying that it would be better for the environment if more people cycled (up from 72% in 2017).

Scotland’s appetite for cycling continues to grow, with the number of people saying that they are “extremely likely” to cycle more journeys in future doubling since last year (6% vs 3% in 2021 and the highest rate since the research began in 2017).

Laura Bouch, 34, a social worker from Glasgow who started cycling while roads were quieter during the pandemic, has kept it as part of her travel routine as a way of saving money and getting exercise. Laura said: “I’ve discovered that cycling is so much cheaper than driving. I save loads, and although I don’t cycle every day, it’s saving me £40 to £50 a month on fuel. I also feel better that by cycling, I’m helping to travel in a more environmentally friendly way.”

“I’m often at a computer all day and it’s hard to be active. If I’ve cycled to work, I feel that it reduces my stress and benefits my mental health. When I’ve cycled to work in the morning it also makes me want to be more active during the day.”

Denise Hamilton, Head of Communications at Cycling Scotland said:

“In the current cost-of-living crisis, more people are realising that cycling offers an affordable way of connecting us to jobs, interviews, education and essential services. It’s also really positive to see the majority of people recognise how cycling ultimately saves you time – you can get where you need to go and do your daily exercise all in one!”   

The research released today highlights barriers to people cycling that need to be addressed:

  • Over two thirds (68%) said not feeling safe enough on roads prevented them from cycling more.
  • Only one third (37%) report owning a bike, a decrease on 2017 (when 43% reported owning a bike).
  • Continued gender disparities, with women more likely to consider cycling if there was less traffic on the roads (77% vs. 63% of men) and fewer women saying they cycled occasionally or regularly (24% vs. 40% of men). One in ten men said they cycled for journeys most days, compared to only 2% of women.

Hamilton added: “To help more people gain from the money saving and health benefits of cycling, we need to make it more accessible to all, by making sure we have fair access to bikes, and to bike storage, and making our roads safer.

“To improve safety, which will encourage more people to cycle, we need a network of dedicated cycling lanes, separated from traffic as the highest priority.”