Economic benefits from cycling

Financial benefits are said to total more than £400 billion for countries that invest in cycling…

By Cath Harris


Health, fun, fitness and a better environment are among the familiar pluses of cycling.

And here there’s another: the money it saves and generates. A new report reveals that cycling contributes a huge €513 billion (£447 bn) annually to the economies of the 28 EU countries – the equivalent of €1,000 per person each year.


Cycling benefits graphic 1


From the obvious – transport and environment – to the less predictable – employability, mobility and refugee integration – cycling is providing numerous all-round benefits.

Even the UK profits to the tune of €24.9 bn despite just 3 per cent of the population (1.95 million people) using bikes as their main means of transport.

The European Cyclists’ Federation report, The EU Cycling Economy, is the organisation’s second analysis of the economic benefits of cycling across the continent.

It finds that Europeans ride 134 bn kilometres every year and assigns the benefits of cycling to nine sectors.


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Our environment and climate gain to the tune of €15.43 bn, from reduced carbon emissions and less air, noise, soil and water pollution (the latter two from building fewer roads).

Cycling instead of driving cuts fuel use, while bike construction is estimated to use just 2 per cent of the resources consumed in building a car. These factors contribute €2.8 bn to EU economies.

Health benefits amount to €191.27 bn, and include better mental health, active habits developed from cycling to school, fewer road deaths and injuries, and less absenteeism among those who cycle regularly.


cycling benfits graphic 2


Bike manufacture, sales and repairs, and cycle tourism, contribute €63.09 bn while towns and cities designed to encourage walking and cycling and boosts to smart technology development spurred by the cycling industry bring in €20 bn.

Social benefits and better use of time and space contribute €181 bn, and savings due to less road congestion and maintenance, and reduced pressure on public transport, total €29.6 bn. Finally, the report highlights the €10 bn in benefits from improved social interaction enabled by cycling.


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While the UK’s €24.9 bn worth of gains lags well behind several countries, notably the top three of Germany (€124.5 bn), the Netherlands (€77.7 bn) and Italy (€46.6 bn), investment pledges by the Mayor of London offer hope, at least for the capital.


cycling benefits graphic 3


Sadiq Khan has promised a total of £770 million will be invested in cycling over the next five years, matching the outlay per head in Denmark and the Netherlands where cycling levels are highest.


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The Mayor’s target is 1.5 m cycle journeys per day by 2025/6 aided by the completion and extension of two existing cycle ‘superhighways’ and the construction of another two, alongside improvements to major junctions. Bans on some HGVs and other lorries to improve cyclists’ safety have already been announced.

Making cycling safe and easier can provide huge benefits for us all – improving our health, cleaning up our toxic air, and helping tackle congestion

the Mayor says.



*Data/graphics: Neun, M. and Haubold, H. 2016. The European Cycling Economy – Arguments for an integrated EU Cycling Policy; European Cyclists’ Federation


Cath Harris is a freelance journalist specialising in cycling, environment and adventure travel. Read her work at




Andrew Stuart 27/01/2017

Cant read nothing on the 1st diagram, and its not my eyes.

Richard Ham 27/01/2017

A very interesting article which holds no surprise at all.
It’s sad to say that short sighted developers in the 70’s designed roads for the expected increase in car use but totally ignored the two wheeled commuter.
This year sees the highest production of new cars for a good few years, most being exported into Europe but i think it’s high time cyclists banded together and created a national association covering all types of cycling. This just might give us a stronger voice to insist that any new road developments include a compulsory cycling option included in the planning application.
I strongly suspect that car manufacturers would rather not see this happen but there is power in numbers and if we present a united front, we may just make a difference.

Jay ginn 27/01/2017

It’s very useful to have these figures when cyclists are accused by the motorists lobby of slowing down traffic by getting in the way of cars, causing congestion by reducing road space available for cars, and causing their own deaths when mown down by vehicles turning left!
We are also accused of causing collisions that injure pedestrians, which I find surprising.
Do keep the stats coming!

John Pottinger 28/01/2017

I have cycled for twenty years plus to work and pleasure (up until last year when both my bikes were taken in a shed burglary ! Gutted) so it’s walking time now great report health benefits alone are a no brainer !

Rene 28/01/2017

good read! Love that the picture on top is in the Netherlands. As a Dutchman I am proud that we ride our bikes this much 🙂

Melvin 31/01/2017

I’m already on board with the cycling. I feel that the local authorities and central government need to do much more for cyclists generally.

We have “hit & miss” cycle lanes that go for a short distance then abruptly stop.

Legislation needs changing to make cycling on UK roads safer.

Ashley 31/12/2018

i agree, cycling is really a great way to build stamina and fitness! Not to mention relieving stress!


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