Virgin Money poll reveals duff/shock result; Durham and Gloucester are 'under-served' with few specialist cycle shops

The UK’s most cycle friendly town is…Plymouth?

Plymouth, Norwich, Bristol, St Helens, Huddersfield and Glasgow are the UK’s most cycle-friendly towns, according to a new poll.

Virgin Money, sponsor of Northumberland’s Cyclone sportive (taking over from Northern Rock), tasked researchers with rating towns, based on bike thefts, accidents,serious injuries and deaths for cyclists, as well as the availability of cycle routes and the availability of specialist bicycle repair centres. Points were allocated and weighted to reflect population.

However, as the results show, the survey has come up with some rather odd results and folks on Twitter are wondering out loud how a financial institution can be so bad at adding up.

Plymouth won out for its low number of thefts, low accident rate and low numbers of cyclists killed or seriously injured. Virgin Money appears to have used population figures rather amount of cycling done by that population, a calcuation method guaranteed to come up with a wonky result.

@graemeshaw said: "In other news, Coventry safest place in UK for sea kayaking – no recorded injuries ever!"

According to Virgin Money, Coventry ranked in the middle for the number of specialist cycle shops, and 15th for cycle routes around the city.

Despite Cambridge’s reputation – where one in five journeys are made by bike – it only just made the top 60 due to a high incidence of cycle theft, serious injuries and a mid-ranking for bike shops and routes, claims Virgin Money. ("Trust Virgin Money with savings if they can’t count? asked Brompton’s Emerson Roberts).

Likewise, the City of London and Greater London rated 50th and 56th respectively due to high numbers of thefts, accidents and deaths.

Graeme Tones of Virgin Money said: “Cycling continues to increase in popularity and is a major contributor to improving general health and easing traffic congestion. Government and local councils are doing their best to help more of us to get on our bikes through tax incentives, cycle parks and cycle paths.

“Every town and city in the top 60 can be pleased. Reducing the level of accidents and serious injuries requires responsibility from cyclists, care from drivers and the desire from towns and cities to make it easy and safe for people to get on their bikes.”

Virgin Money launched the research to mark its inaugural sponsorship of the Virgin Money Cyclone Festival of Cycling, running from June 28th to July 1st in the Newcastle area.

Virgin Money Cyclone organiser Peter Harrison said: “Everyone will have their own idea of what makes a town or city cycle friendly and the Virgin Money Cyclone research is an attempt to find which towns and cities are more cycle friendly than others and what the issues are. For those taking part in this year’s Virgin Money Cyclone I urge them to have a great time but equally importantly to be safe.”


  1. Plymouth
  2. Norwich
  3. Bristol
  4. St Helens
  5. Huddersfield
  6. Glasgow
  7. Dudley
  8. Ipswich
  9. Cardiff
  10. Walsall

Regional breakdown

Specialist cycle shops and repairs were numerous in the City of London and Salford, while Durham and Gloucester were found to be under-served.

In terms of cycle routes, Bradford and Bolton to be below par, while Reading and the City of London fared well.

Bike theft lowered the City of London’s rating, with Bath, Camridge and Peterborough also reporting high levels of theft. Where are cyclists least likely to have their bike stolen? Belfast, according to the poll. Maybe sales of bike locks are higher there?

Accidents hit Bournemouth’s rating, with the same going for Greater London, the City of London and Cambridge. Barnsely and Bath reported low levels of accidents.

The highest incidence of deaths and serious injuries was the City of London, with the safest towns reportedly Bath and Middlesbrough.

The data on thefts, accidents and KSI used council police data in April 2012. Specialist cycle shops and workshops were calculated using the tool on, while cycle route data was taken from

Register for the BikeBiz News Digest at the registration page.

Follow BikeBiz on Twitter at @BikeBizOnline or ‘Like’ the BikeBiz Facebook page here.

In other news...

Danish software company Bikedesk expands to UK, aims to streamline bike store experience

Off the back of unprecedented success in Denmark, Bikedesk has announced it is expanding into …