Sport England recently published participation figures for all sports in England and the good news is that cycling is showing a healthy rise.
The rise is important as Sport England ultimately makes decisions on national governing body funding from the money it receives from the National Lottery and UK government.
The likes of British Cycling, the overall national body of cycling in the UK, must show they can meet individual targets for increasing participation as they compete for the investment pot for future years beyond the current four year investment period that started in 2009.
According to Sport England’s Active People Survey, participation rates for people cycling at least once a week for recreational and competitive purposes are up by almost 100,000 rising from 1,767,100 to 1,866,300 between October 2007/October 2008 and October 2009/October 2010.
Participation amongst men has showed an increase from 1,260,700 to 1,367,600, an increase of 106,900. But female participation was down, if only by 7,700, as numbers reached 498,700.
Amongst those aged 35-54 (male and female) there was a significant increase in participation from 765,600 to 835,000 over the survey period. In the 16-34 age group, there was only a slight increase from 726,500 to 736,400.
In competitive cycling, there has been an increase in the number of competitive events delivered in the UK from 2,542 to 3,283, a rise of 29%. This combined with a 40% increase in British Cycling membership in the past 18 months to stand at just over 35,000 bodes well for a cycling legacy post 2012 Olympic Games.
British Cycling’s Chief Executive, Ian Drake, said: “We put great stock on trying to ensure our participation initiatives truly meet the needs of those we’re hoping to get involved in our sport. We’re committed to getting more people on their bikes and importantly, keeping them cycling. What is particularly exciting for us is that we’re confident there’s plenty more to come and throughout 2011 we will be launching more new initiatives to help get more people cycling more regularly.”
Overall, across all sports, Sport England said there was a slow but steady increase in participation numbers, with 6,938,000 people now taking part in some form of sport at least three times a week.