THE proportion of people cycling to work in York has fallen over the past decade despite initiatives to encourage more on to their bikes.

York remains among the best cities for cyclists, according to new figures, but has slipped from joint-third in the country in 2001 to fifth in 2011 for the proportion of workers cycling.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics Census show that in 2001, 12 per cent of employees in the city were cycling to work but that had fallen to 11.2 per cent by 2011. 

City of York Council stressed that the figures did not account for people under the age of 16, over the age of 74 or those cycling for pleasure, an initiative the council has been keen to push as York prepares to welcome the Tour de France Grand Depart in July.

The council also said newer data on overall cycling rates showed the number of people cycling at least once a week in York rose from 23 per cent to 25 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for transport, planning and sustainability said that the council has invested in cycling since 2011 and is hoping that the Grand Depart will encourage even more people to taking up some form of cycling. 

He said: “Since 2011 we have continued to invest in cycling and were awarded £4.6 million from the government which built our successful i-Travel York campaign.

“Through this campaign and the world’s largest annual sporting event – the Tour de France – coming to York in less than 100 days, we’re expecting the amount of people cycling to continue rising and enthusiasm for this sport to be a lasting legacy in York.”

Despite the proportion of people cycling to work decreasing, the actual number of people cycling to work increased by 600 from 2001 to 2011, but the rise in the working population in the city has meant that the percentage of cycling commuters has fallen.

Although Yorkshire and the Humber remains in the top ten regions with the highest percentage of cycle commuters, the number of people cycling to work fell by more  than 2,500 from 63,384 in 2001 to 60,865 in 2011. 

York was an official Cycling City  under a Government-sponsored programme from 2008 to 2011. That programme aimed  to increase overall cycling in the city and to double the number of children cycling to school.