Walking and cycling


Based on the Active Lives Survey, a total of 77.0% 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 78.4% for England, but is not significantly different from this. The percentage who did not walk continuously for 10 minutes was 33.0% in Blackburn with Darwen, which was significantly lower than the national rate. Lancaster, at 84.7%, was the only Lancashire authority significantly above the England figure.

Four Lancashire authorities were estimated to have cycling rates that were slightly ahead of the national average of 16.9%, but none are significantly above this. Cycling rates vary quite noticeably across Lancashire, falling below 10% in the East Lancashire authorities of Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Rossendale.


The Department for Transport publishes a range of walking and cycling statistics for adults (persons aged 16 and over) at the local authority level. They have also made available this interactive map: http://maps.dft.gov.uk/walking-and-cycling-statistics/.

This article considers the figures that focus on residents who do any walking or 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 refer to cycling irrespective of length or purpose. The estimates are sourced from the Active Lives Survey, 2017.

As the figures are estimates the confidence intervals help to understand the true range that most of that authorities would fall into. For England the 95% confidence limits are only plus or minus 0.3%. For Blackburn with Darwen, the walking rate confidence limits are ±5.6%. This means that the relatively low walking rate shown as 67.0% could actually be as low as 61.4% or as high as 72.6%, 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, 2016/17, but ends mid November 2017, so the period is very largely similar to the 2017 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 23.0% of interviewees, and rose to 33.0% in Blackburn with Darwen.

Figure 1 shows the proportions and confidence intervals. Lancaster, at 84.7% was the only Lancashire authority with an estimated walking rate above 80% and significantly above the England figure of 78.4%, and its bar is shaded green. Out of 327 English local authorities, Lancaster was 25th highest. This being the second year that these results were derived from the Active Lives Survey, comparisons with the previous period are indicated and a significant increase for Lancaster is shown in Table 1. The identification of significance in this case incorporates the latest year's confidence intervals in the comparison, but not the previous year's. The North West region and England also have significant increases flagged. As the walking rate for Blackburn with Darwen is significantly below the England rate its bar appears shaded red in Figure 1. Blackburn with Darwen had the lowest rate for walking in England.


Four Lancashire authorities were estimated to have cycling rates that were slightly ahead of the national average of 16.9% but as Figure 2 shows that no Lancashire authority has a cycling rate significantly above England. The six authorities, plus Lancashire-12 and the North West region, with bars shaded red are significantly below the England rate. Lancaster, which in 2015/16 had a cycling rate significantly above the England rate, has, along with Ribble Valley and Blackpool significant decreases flagged against them in the latest year's figures.

Cycling rates varied across Lancashire, and were below 10% in the East Lancashire authorities of Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Rossendale. The estimate for Blackburn with Darwen of 8.4% was the seventh lowest in the country and when the confidence intervals are applied to the rate, we can presume that the actual rate for cycling is somewhere between 4.8% and 12.0% in the authority.

The highest rate in England was in Cambridge, which recorded a value of 60.7%. At 40.0% Oxford was second.

Table 1. Residents who walk or cycle at least once per month (2016/17)

  Walk % Confidence intervals (walking) Significant change Cycle % Confidence intervals (cycling) Significant change
Burnley  77.1  ±5.2    11.0  ±4.2  
Chorley 79.2  ±4.4   17.8  ±4.9  
Fylde 78.1  ±4.7    18.7  ±4.9  
Hyndburn 73.5  ±5.3   12.3  ±4.1  
Lancaster 84.7  ±4.0  Increase 17.8  ±4.1  Decrease
Pendle 74.8  ±5.3   9.4  ±3.5  
Preston 73.9  ±5.4    13.5  ±3.6  
Ribble Valley  75.9  ±4.8   13.2  ±3.9  Decrease
Rossendale  73.6  ±5.1    9.5  ±3.2  
South Ribble  79.0  ±4.7    17.3  ±4.3  
West Lancashire  75.1  ±4.9    15.2  ±4.6  
Wyre  74.2  ±5.1    14.2  ±3.8  
Lancashire-12  77.0  ±1.4    14.6  ±1.2  
Blackburn with Darwen  67.0  ±5.6    8.4  ±3.6  
Blackpool  74.7  ±4.5    12.7  ±3.9  Decrease
North West 76.4 ±0.7  Increase 14.9 ±0.6  
England 78.4 ±0.3  Increase 16.9 ±0.2  

Note: 95% confidence intervals

Source: Department of Transport figures from Active Lives Survey – Sport England. Walking and cycling statistics, 2017, table CW0303 (walking) and table CW0302 (cycling).

Figure 1. Walking rates with confidence intervals

Note: 95% confidence intervals

Source: Walking and cycling statistics, England, 2017, Department for Transport/Sport England - table CW0303

Figure 2. Cycling rates with confidence intervals

Note: 95% confidence intervals 

Source: Walking and cycling statistics, England, 2017, Department for Transport/Sport England - table CW0302

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: 300 million vehicle miles, of which 150 million vehicle miles were in Greater Manchester and Merseyside while a further 150 million vehicle miles were in those other areas, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire which were not formerly metropolitan counties. These figures quoted are for 2017. 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 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.

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

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 September 2018