Interpreting the cycling figures for Hammersmith and Fulham in the 2011 Census

Earlier in the year statistics from the 2011 census caused quite a stir amongst cycle campaigners. Hackney rejoiced that cycling was becoming a greater proportion of commuting journeys than driving and meanwhile Cyclists in the City made some lovely charts which also show that Hammersmith & Fulham is one of the leading cycling boroughs in London (we’re 4th).

Percentage of people who travel to work and do so by bicycle 2011 census cyclistsinthecity2

To find out what that actually means locally we thought we should examine the figures with a purely Hammersmith and Fulham focus. The Office of National Statistics provide a map tool to compare 2001 and 2011 census data. For the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham this provides the following table for comparing journeys to work. Note that such commuting journeys are typically the highest modal share for cycling, rather than utility (shopping, visiting your relatives) and leisure (heading for Richmond Park on a sunny afternoon). The figure for cycling as a share of all trips is typically around 2-3%.

Journey to Work, 2011 Local Authority Name: Hammersmith and Fulham

2001 2011
Work mainly at or from home (%) 8.88 10.75
Underground, metro, light rail, tram (%) 37.63 37.79
Train (%) 3.67 4.26
Bus, minibus or coach (%) 10.71 13.39
Taxi (%) 0.51 0.37
Motorcycle, scooter or moped (%) 2.2 2.06
Driving a car or van (%) 17.97 11.07
Passenger in a car or van (%) 1.03 0.68
Vehicle Occupancy Rate 1.06 1.06
Bicycle (%) 4.75 7.12
On foot (%) 12.13 11.99
Other method of travel to work (%) 0.52 0.53

The 2011 data has been provided at a ward level, which gives us this thrilling league table, and the knowledge that as a whole, Hammersmith and Fulham has 7,088 (approximately) resident cycle commuters in a population of 145,552.

Ward Bicycle %
Palace Riverside 357 9.22%
Askew 656 8.44%
Munster 548 8.33%
Ravenscourt Park 448 7.83%
Fulham Reach 497 7.70%
Fulham Broadway 469 7.60%
Shepherd’s Bush Green 521 7.55%
Sands End 489 7.32%
Addison 500 7.15%
Hammersmith Broadway 444 7.06%
Town 452 6.80%
Parsons Green and Walham 367 6.21%
Wormholt and White City 346 5.96%
Avonmore and Brook Green 400 5.90%
North End 407 5.90%
College Park and Old Oak 187 4.51%

It is of course also valuable to look at this data over a longer period and examine the change in behaviour.

Year Working Population Change Cycling to work % Change Cyclists Change
1991 64,760 3.80% 2,461
2001 83,023 28% 4.75% 25% 3,943 60%
2011 99,618 20% 7.12% 50% 7,088 80%

The working population of Hammersmith and Fulham has gone up strongly over the past two censuses. The proportion of cyclists in the working population has grown at 25% in 1991-2001 and then 50% in 2001-2011. Meanwhile the absolute number of cyclists has grown by 80% from just under 2,500 to just under 4,000 in 1991-2001 and then to over 7,000 in 2001-2011.

Strong that growth may sound, Hammersmith and Fulham actually missed the targets that had been set nationally, these targets were to double 1996 levels of cycling by 2002, and to double them by 2012. Amusingly after the 2002 target was missed the 2012 target was to increase on 1996 to triple or quadruple! It’s also worth noting that a previous vision for cycling, the London Cycle Network (LCN) envisaged a 10% modal share by around 2012 as well. The Mayor’s Cycling Vision more sanely proposes a doubling of cycling, again over ten years.

That would take us to 14,000 commuting cyclists (assuming the growth is even in commuting, and that Hammersmith evenly with London) making a 14% share of journeys, assuming the population is stable. However, with opportunity areas and many housing developments in the borough the absolute capacity of cyclists necessary to plan for may be far higher.  What matters, is that as the earlier tables showed a 14% share of commuting journeys for cycling would almost certainly make it the second most popular mode of travel to work after the tube, and more popular than buses.