Data from Transport for London‘s (TfL) annual Travel in London report shows that walking and cycling have continued to increase in popularity in London, with cycling levels maintaining 40% higher than levels seen before the pandemic.

A sustainable transportation system in the city depends on encouraging more people to walk and cycle, so TfL has collaborated closely with the boroughs of London to invest in high-quality infrastructure that encourages more people to walk and cycle more frequently.

The study demonstrates that riding is still above pre-pandemic levels, with cycling in autumn 2022 being 40% greater than in 2019. Despite less commuting this fall, cycling has typically increased by 20–25% on weekdays and by 90% on weekends compared to pre–pandemic levels. Since the beginning of the epidemic, TfL has collaborated extensively with boroughs all throughout the capital to invest in and grow London’s network of Cycleways despite severe financial limitations. 22 percent of Londoners now live within 400 meters of a high-quality cycle route, up from 12 percent in 2019. This is almost double the amount of people who did so in 2019.

Walking is still a major mode of transportation in London, and levels are still significantly higher than they were prior to the pandemic. Before the pandemic, about 35% of trips in London were undertaken on foot. According to the most recent quarter of statistics, which covers April through September 2022, 41% of trips are now made on foot, which is much higher than it was before the pandemic. Additionally, the data reveals that between April and September 2022, daily walking trips per person increased by 11% over the pre-pandemic norm.

Santander Cycles, which experienced record hiring levels during the pandemic, is still seeing record hiring levels now, with hires being 11% higher than pre-pandemic levels as of late September 2022. The program has hired 10.9 million people so far in 2022, shattering a number of previous milestones this year. Every month from August 2021 to August 2022 saw the highest number of hires for the corresponding month, making this 762,500 higher than the same period previous year. The plan has become more well-liked because e-bikes were recently included; as of right now, 86,000 hires have been completed.

The paper also emphasizes the notable advancements in air quality in recent years, which are attributable to the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone into inner London and to anticipated reductions of NO2 concentrations of 20%.

However, the Mayor’s courageous decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide will result in five million more Londoners breathing cleaner air. Outer London currently contributes for a growing percentage of NOx and PM2.5 emissions from vehicle transport. Several initiatives, including a new and enhanced bus network and a new £110 million scrappage program, will be used to promote the development of ULEZ to outside London in order to make it possible to use greener modes of transportation.

The report also discusses how after the pandemic, the number of passengers using London’s public transportation system is still increasing. By the end of October, weekday Tube service demand reached approximately 82% of pre-pandemic levels, with weekend bus and Tube ridership numbers gradually moving in that direction as well. In terms of weekly passenger volume, buses are at 84% of pre-pandemic levels, while the DLR, trams, and London Overground are all using about 80% of their pre-pandemic levels. With 70 million passengers on the new Elizabeth line so far, the report also demonstrates how Londoners are making the most of it. There will be about 600,000 passengers on the line on a normal weekday.

According to Alex Williams, chief customer and strategy officer, “Walking and cycling are absolutely essential to a more sustainable future for London so it’s very encouraging to see this new data, which shows that there continues to be significant increases in the number of journeys cycled or on foot. We’re determined to ensure that the way people travel in London is as healthy and sustainable as possible and continuing to encourage people back onto public transport is also a key part of this. We’ll continue to work closely with boroughs to transform our roads and invest in our transport network, enabling even more people to shift their journeys to walking, cycling and public transport.” 

Will Norman, the commissioner for walking and cycling in London, noted: : “It’s great to see that the boom in walking and cycling we saw during the pandemic has continued as more Londoners enjoy using sustainable ways to get around the capital.

“We must continue to make active travel around the city as accessible and safe as possible. That’s why I’m delighted that this year we’ve seen the introduction of e-bikes to the Santander Cycles scheme, we’ve built hundreds of kilometres of new or upgraded cycle routes since the pandemic and completed work to make some of the capital’s most dangerous and intimidating junctions safer. The Mayor’s bold decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission zone London wide will also see new support put in place to help people switch to greener options such as public transport, bikes, e-bikes or car clubs. The Mayor and I are determined to continue building a cleaner, greener and more prosperous London for everyone and investing in and encouraging use of sustainable transport options is a vital part of that.” 

James Cleeton, Sustrans London Director, said: “It is hugely encouraging that cycling in London is up 40 per cent, and walking up 11 per cent, compared to pre-pandemic levels. The numbers show that investing in infrastructure like cycle lanes, reduced speed limits, ambitious low traffic neighbourhoods, crossings, pavements and junctions, and community initiatives such as cycle hubs, has direct impact on communities and changes the way we travel. 

“But we need to go further. People who have a physically active lifestyle have a 20-35 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke compared to those who have a sedentary lifestyle. With 38 per cent of adults and 66 per cent of children in London not having the recommended amounts of physical activity, it’s clear that we still have a lot of work to do to create a city where everyone can lead healthy and active lives by choosing to walk, wheel or cycle their everyday journeys.” 


TfL says they will keep cooperating closely with the boroughs of London to provide more infrastructure for walking and bicycling in the upcoming years. Following crucial funds being obtained as part of the most recent financing arrangement with Government, TfL has announced that it will resume work on stalled programmes to make the capital’s roadways safer and more appealing for individuals walking and cycling. There are currently 16.4 km of new or enhanced cycling routes under development in addition to the 10.6 km that TfL and the boroughs have already delivered since April. With the help of the boroughs, TfL hopes to construct at least 39 km of new or enhanced bike lanes over the course of the next 18 months. At Streatham High Road and Manor Circus, TfL will also begin work on enhancements for bicyclists and pedestrians.

According to TfL’s financing arrangement with the government, £80 million year will be invested in walking and cycling programs, and boroughs will also get an additional £69 million annually.

As part of its Safer Junctions program, TfL has already reduced risk at 43 junctions throughout London, and work is scheduled to begin at two further locations early next year. Because of the higher-than-average collision rates at every site in the Safer Junctions program, this enhancement effort is a crucial component of TfL’s Vision Zero goal. In the boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Haringey, and Tower Hamlets, TfL recently started a local consultation campaign over plans to add 28km of new 20mph speed limits to its roadways. By encouraging more people to walk, bike, and take public transportation instead of driving their automobiles, the increased speed limits would make a significant portion of London safer and more desirable as a place to live, work, and play.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash