August 7, 2010 12:45 am

The Information: Cycling to work

The new bike hire scheme unveiled in London last month aims to increase the number of cyclists in the UK capital. Six thousand bicycles will eventually be available to rent throughout central London; at the same time, new cycle routes – marked by highly visible, bright blue cycle lanes – will add further encouragement.

When Eurobarometer surveyed groups of 500 people in 75 European cities last year, London featured in the top 20 by proportion of people biking to work, and was among the top 10 capital cities for the number of cyclists – ahead of Brussels, Rome and even Paris, which runs a similar cycle hire scheme called Vélib. However, compared with the Netherlands and Denmark, where the bike is the most common means of commuting, London is far behind.

The new scheme could help. London has one of the largest populations of any European city, and more than double that of Paris or Berlin. And perhaps even London’s famously inclement weather isn’t such an impediment to pedalling. According to the survey, fewer than two in 100 commuters cycle to work in most southern European cities despite their sunnier climate.

So there’s no excuse: it’s time to get on your bike.

Source: Eurobarometer 2009

Chart: People cycling to work as a percentage of those who travel to work (or place of education) in Europe's capital cities in 2009

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