Bike Journeys Increase By 18% Due To Transport Costs and Women's Fitness Concerns (SHOPPING Cycling Clothing And Accessories)

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Millions of extra bike journeys were made last year on the UK's National Cycle Network, according to a new study.

Almost 500 million journeys were made by bike or on foot, with a third of cyclists saying they had swapped four wheels for two.

Around 40 million more cycling trips were made during 2011 than the year before, an 18% increase, taking the total to 256 million, said cycling charity Sustrans.

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An estimated 3.3 million people used the national network during 2011, an increase of 300,000 over the previous year.

Rising petrol prices, higher fares and frustration with traffic jams were among the reasons persuading people to get on their bikes, although fitness was a major motivation for women, said Sustrans.

Chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said: "Cycling and walking are the answers to our rising petrol prices and expanding waistlines, but we need safe routes to feel comfortable travelling by bike and foot.

"People across the country are crying out for routes where they can get off roads and make safe, healthy, cheap and green journeys.

"It's time the Government had the foresight to properly fund cycling and walking."

See Jamie Oliver's wife Jools riding new Pendleton Somerby bike

The national network was launched 17 years ago and now extends to 13,600 miles of signed routes with a third on traffic-free paths and the rest following quieter lanes or traffic-calmed roads.

The most popular sections are those that are traffic-free.

Norman Baker, Local Transport Minister, said: "Cycling and walking is good for the environment, good for your health and, of course, good for the economy.

"Getting around on two wheels or two feet relieves congestion by cutting down on the number of car journeys but evidence also shows that those who cycle or walk to the shops spend more per head than those who take their car, bringing further benefits to the local economy.

"Right across Government it is accepted that there is a hard-nosed business case for investing in sustainable local transport, and that includes cycling and walking.

"That is why, despite the challenging economic climate, we are spending more on sustainable transport in this four year spending review period than the last one, including the £560m Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

According to a report in The Guardian last year, just one in four people who cycle once a week are women, and the number of women cycling has decreased in past years.

Check out our cycling must-haves for ladies looking to hop back in the saddle.

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