Fewer than one in every hundred commuters use a bike to get to work in the Bradford district but it is on the rise, according to new figures.
The Office for National Statistics says in 2001 a total of 1,481 people cycled to work, which increased by 200 to 1,681 by 2011 meaning 0.8 per cent of the local population use a bike to commute.
But although the numbers are relatively low, the rise does buck the regional trend. Across Yorkshire and The Humber, four per cent fewer people cycled to work in 2011 than ten years earlier.
David Hall, regional director for Sustrans – a charity which encourages people to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys – said it was difficult to judge the accuracy of the figures, which are based on Census records, but that he was encouraged they were improving.
“That’s because Bradford is a more welcoming city to cyclists,” he said.
And he said the more people that were seen cycling to work, the more would follow suit.
“You will reach a point where more people are taking to their bikes because they will see the roads are being made safer and improving,” he said.
The main reason people avoided cycling, Mr Hall said, was fear about safety.
“Many people who cycle regularly overcome a fear of traffic and become more aware of how to remain safe in traffic,” he said.
Across the district work is being done in schools to encourage children to cycle.
“We’re building a new mindset for the upcoming generation that will be able to use a bike to get to work,” Mr Hall said.
The Bradford Cycling Strategy, Setting the Wheels in Motion 2012-2020, was formally endorsed by Bradford Council in early 2012.
It was developed by CycleBradford, a group which has grown out of the work of B-Spoke, the Bradford Cycling Forum, and aims to highlight the benefits of cycling.
Recent events to push cycling include a project encouraging students to cycle to university and college and Bike Breakfasts highlighting the benefits of cycling to workers.
And the Council said cycle routes including the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the Connect2 works in the Manchester Road were encouraging.
A spokesman said: “We won funding for and are continuing to work on the Canal Road Greenway to connect the city centre to the Airedale Greenway to the north.
“We won funding for and are working on the City Connect project to connect the city to Leeds in the east and we are soon to complete infrastructure to extend a link to the Airedale Greenway through Keighley which will avoid some of the most dangerous roads in the area.”
He said the Grand Depart’s arrival in Yorkshire could only encourage more people to cycle.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on Yorkshire, its beautiful landscapes and vibrant communities.
“Efforts are ongoing both locally and regionally to make sure that the event itself is a huge success that will bring cycle tourism to the area for years to come but also to ensure a legacy is in place to ensure that local people have access to all the opportunities to partake in cycling activity at any level,” he said.