Walking and Cycling Index 2023

The Walking and Cycling Index survey looks at what people think about active travel in 23 cities and urban areas.
Man and woman cycling in a cycle lane, wearing high-vis, smiling.

About the study

The Walking and Cycling Index, formerly known as ‘Bike Life’, is the biggest ever survey of walking, wheeling and cycling around the UK and Ireland. It looks at what people think about active travel in 23 cities and urban areas, seeking to understand travel behaviour and identify opportunities to increase the number of people walking, wheeling and cycling for everyday journeys. The study also looked at residents’ views on how the local area could be improved. 

On behalf of Sustrans, the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) conducted representative surveys of residents’ behaviours and attitudes as well as data on walking, wheeling and cycling provision across 23 cities and urban areas. The surveys were representative of all residents, not just those who walk, wheel or cycle. 

Key findings

  • Walking is the most common mode of transport 
    • More people walk or wheel five or more days a week than any other mode of travel.
  • Walking, wheeling and cycling participation is not equal 
    • Some people face greater barriers to walking, wheeling and cycling. For example, there has been a gender gap in cycling for many years across the UK.
  • Not all residents feel save and welcome in their neighbourhood 
  • Everyone benefits when more people walk, wheel or cycle
  • Residents want to walk, wheel and cycle more and drive less 
  • Residents want more funding for walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport
  • Increased funding would help support more livable neighbourhoods.


The surveys were conducted from March to June 2023 and were representative of all city residents, not just those who walk, wheel or cycle. The survey aimed to gather a representative sample of at least 1,100 respondents aged 16 and above in each of the 18 urban areas and regions. The survey was ‘push to online’ where letters including access codes and login credentials for the online survey were posted to specific addresses of the sample chosen by the stratification described above. There was also a paper format of the questionnaire that could be returned by prepaid postage. The data collection took place from 31st March to 2nd July.