Figures released from the 2011 Census this week reveal large increases in the number and proportion of London residents who use cycling as their main way to get to work. Across London as a whole, 4.3% now cycle to work, while the figure in inner London is 7.2%. Hackney has London’s highest proportion of people cycling to work, at 15.4%. (These figures exclude employed people who work from home).
Meanwhile car ownership is plummeting in inner London, and especially in Hackney, where the proportion of households which are car-free has risen to 64.6%, up from 56% in 2001, with just 170 motor vehicles per 1000 people, and about 3200 fewer cars owned overall, even though the population has increased by some 44,000.
The media has been taking an interest, with two articles in the Evening Standard, while the Cyclists in the City blog has taken the opportunity to do a compare-and-contrast of Hackney and Westminster.
These figures are certainly something to celebrate, both for Hackney and for London, and we will use them to continue argue the case for the further development of cycling. But the proportion of people travelling to work by cycle is only one part of the picture.Overall mode share is another issue, and we know that cycling generally makes up a significantly smaller proportion of it. The weekday cycle commuter will often jump in her Jag or a hire car for non-work-related journeys at the weekend. School pupils will usually (in inner London, at least, and certainly in Hackney) walk or take public transport. And so on. Unfortunately, while the data for travel to work is very dependable, thanks to the census (refuseniks aside) and the regular, predictable nature of work journeys, data for overall mode share and other segments are considerably less robust, and for good reasons will probably always be harder to obtain. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t step up our efforts to get good data. The more information we have, the better decisions we can make.
Mapper Jim has produced some excellent maps illustrating the change in cycling levels in London since 2001. Not surprisingly, Hackney and its near environs stick out like a sore thumb.