Who's in the Peleton and Why? Understanding the Factors Behind Cycling Growth in London

Who's in the Peleton and Why? Understanding the Factors Behind Cycling Growth in London


J Crockett, S Reid, MVA Consultancy, UK; L Matson, K Kroeger, Transport for London, UK


This paper describes new research to understand the substantial growth in cycling in London during recent years, identifying significant market churn amongst cyclists and the factors behind behavioural change across different market segments.


London has observed substantial growth in cycling levels in recent years. Data collected as part of the Smarter Travel Richmond (STR) and Smarter Travel Sutton (STS) projects showed a 75% and 16% increase at monitored sites. Whilst the goal of increased cycling could be seen to be achieved, such data gave no understanding of who these people were and why their travel behaviour had changed. In particular, it was unclear whether observed growth was from existing cyclists cycling more frequently or new cyclists coming to the market. Such questions have clear implications for policy makers across agendas wider than transport.

To understand the relative contribution of different groups to changes in observed cycling trips, 500 respondents who had cycled at least once within the last six months were recruited from the last wave of STR and STS monitoring undertaken in September 2009. Considerable churn of individuals between different cycling frequency bands was evident, and it was rarely a case of a respondent simply moving from one frequency band to the next. Take-up, drop-off and re-uptake in cycling frequency are all considerable even in a small sample of 500.

Based upon their stated cycling behaviour at this time and twelve months previously, in September 2008, respondents were eligible for either a five or fifteen minute interview. ?New Cyclists" were routed to the 15 minute depth interview, where primes, triggers, barriers and benefits to changes in cycling levels were investigated in greater detail. Market segmentation was developed using respondents' journey purpose(s), times and days of travel, and the evidence of any mode shift, grouping the ?New Cyclists" into five clusters:
[A] Die hard frequent cyclists in any time, any weather;
[B] Cycle to work frequently or occasionally, weather permitting
[C] Anytime non-work;
[D] Off-peak, any day for non-work; and
[E] Weekend only for non-work.

Analysis by segment allowed the relative influence of a number of key factors to be identified and isolated, including changes in attitudes and lifestyles, influences of social networks and/or the media, changes in personal circumstances and ?life events", specific cycling interventions by TfL and its partners, and changes on competing modes. The findings enabled TfL to develop a more targeted and efficient approach for investment in order to sustain the recent growth in cycling, thus facilitating the beneficial wider outcomes that this brings.


Association for European Transport