Walking and cycling


Based on the 2020 Sport England Active Lives Survey, a total of 75.7% of residents in the Lancashire-12 area were estimated to have had one or more continuous walks for at least 10 minutes over the previous month. This compares with the figure of 74.9% for England, but is not significantly higher than this. Chorley, Lancaster and Ribble Valley had rates that were significantly higher than England. Burnley and Blackburn with Darwen were significantly lower, as was the North West region. Blackburn with Darwen (64.3%) was ranked eighth lowest amongst English local authorities.

Only three Lancashire authorities, Blackpool, Lancaster and Fylde, were estimated to have cycling rates that were slightly ahead of the national average of 16.1 but not significantly so. The Lancashire-12 area, the North West region and five of the Lancashire-12 authorities, plus the Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority, were significantly below the England figure. Cycling rates fell below 10% in the East Lancashire authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Hyndburn.


The Department for Transport publishes a range of walking and cycling statistics for adults (persons aged 16 and over) at the local authority level. The estimates are sourced from the Active Lives Survey, 2020.

This article previously focussed on residents who did any walking or any cycling at least once per month. Walking is classified as referring to any continuous walk of at least 10 minutes, irrespective of purpose. The cycling results referred to cycling irrespective of length or purpose. This time we have taken all of the figures in the table CW0307 for the Lancashire local authorities, the North West and England, and put these in a Microsoft Power BI report, embedded below.

As the figures are estimates, based on survey findings, the confidence intervals help to understand the true range that most of that authorities would fall into. For England, which obviously has the largest sample size, the confidence limits are the smallest. For Pendle, the walking rate (once per month) confidence limits are ±6.3%. This means that the low walking rate shown as 70% could actually be as low as 63.7% or as high as 76.3%, therefore we can be 'confident' that the true value should fall somewhere within that range.

The period of time covered by this report is not the same as the financial year, 2019/20, but ends mid November 2020, so the period is very largely similar to the 2020 calendar year.

Key points


The figures highlight the fact that there is an important minority that state that they do not undertake a continuous walk each month of at least 10 minutes. For the Lancashire-12 area, this equated to 24.3% of interviewees, and rose to 31.6% in Burnley.


Three Lancashire authorities were estimated to have cycling rates that were slightly ahead of the national average of 16.1%. Chorley recorded a decent 17.7%, but slide (page) 2 of the Microsoft Power BI report shows that no Lancashire authority has a cycling rate significantly above England. Six authorities, plus Lancashire-12 and the North West region, are significantly below the England rate. The very low participation in any cycling activity in Hyndburn is marked by a rate of 7% and a rank of 5th lowest in England. Blackburn with Darwen is ranked  lowest out of 314 with a participation rate of just 5%. The highest rate in England was in Cambridge, which recorded a value of 51.2%. At 43.0% Oxford was second.


Source: Department of Transport figures from Active Lives Survey – Sport England. Walking and cycling statistics, 2020, table CW0307.

Age-specific rates of walking

In 2015, Lancashire County Council requested some additional data from the Department for Transport regarding walking frequencies by various age-groups. The analysis of these figures can be seen in the attached document.

Pedal cycle traffic statistics

The Department for Transport also publish statistics on vehicle miles cycled, or road traffic flows for pedal cycles. These are found in Table TRA0403. The statistics do not go down to county level, but are given for the North West region: 450 million vehicle miles, of which 220 million vehicle miles were in Greater Manchester and Merseyside while a further 230 million vehicle miles were in those other areas, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire which were not formerly metropolitan counties. These figures quoted are for 2020. The statistics date back to 1993 and were fairly static until around 2000 but became more fluid until 2011 and from there on and have been around 150 to 170 millions.

Additional walking and cycle information

Preston is the midpoint of the national cycle network which comprises 10,000 miles of traffic-free routes and traffic-calmed or minor roads. One of the features of the 2012 Preston Guild (A civic event celebrated only every 20 years) was the establishment of the Preston Guild Wheel, a 21 mile on-and-off road circular cycle route. A selection of the national routes in Lancashire include route 6: Preston-Lancaster; Blackburn-Rishton; Accrington-Baxenden. Route 55: Preston-Cuerden Valley Park, north of Chorley and the Old Tramway Preston-Bamber Bridge. Please also see the cycling section of the Visit Lancashire website, and the Lancashire page of the CycleStreets journey planner system.  

The Lancaster city and Morecambe urban area was one of the original 'Cycling Demonstration Towns', an initiative  which began in 2005 and developed into the Cycling City and Towns Programme, which continued until 2011. The legacy of these programmes can be seen in the continued good performance for active cycling in the area.

As a part of implementing the National Planning Policy Framework regarding spatial planning, Lancashire County Council has produced advisory notes on public health which relate to the lifestyle topics of physical activity, food and drink and obesity. 

The Department for Transport website has vehicle mile figures for various classes of road vehicles including pedal cycles. Yearly results are available for the 12-district Lancashire County Council area, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool. The web links also include access to the yearly results for the hundreds of traffic count points that include figures for pedal cycles.  

Background information

The results are derived from the Active Lives Survey, which was undertaken by Sport England for the first time from November 2015 to November 2016 collating responses from individuals aged 16 and over. The target sample size is just under 200,000. The study is designed to achieve a standard sample size of at least 500 responses in most of the local authorities in England and is of the 'push to web survey' type, where potential respondents are contacted by more traditional modes but are encouraged to respond online. This survey is successor to the Active People Survey, which was the source for data in these articles for previous years.

In this analysis, “walking” refers to any continuous walk of at least ten minutes and covers walking for leisure and travel and rambling or Nordic walking. However, walking around shops, hiking, and mountain/hill walking are excluded.

The definition of “cycling” in this Active Lives Survey refers to cycle rides of any length and covers cycling for leisure and travel, as well as including a number of specific recreational types: BMX, mountain biking, road cycling or racing, track cycling, and cyclo-cross. However, exercise bikes or cycling indoors are excluded.

The statistics are official, but not classed as National Statistics.

Further analysis and information

Age-specific rates of walking, 2010-2014 (PDF 102 KB)

Readers may also be interested in Sport England's Active Lives Survey and the Department for Transport's National Travel Survey.

Page updated August 2022