New figures released by British Cycling showed that it is growing at an unprecedented rate. The numbers confirmed findings by Sport England that released figures showing that cycling is the second fastest growing sport in Britain.
For the first time, British Cycling (BC) reported more than 25,000 members. In addition, 13,000 cyclists also hold racing licences more than at any time since British Cycling's formation in 1959. At the beginning of British Cycling's current funding cycle in 2005, British Cycling had 15,000 members and 8,500 cyclists with racing licences.
BC's president Brian Cookson OBE said "25,000 members and 13,000 licence holders is a real milestone for British Cycling and is a great way to end what has been a fantastic year for us. Our membership growth is testament to the hard work and dedication of all our volunteers at a national, regional and club level and I would like to personally thank everyone for the contribution they have made to British Cycling's growth."
The news comes as Sport England's latest Active People Survey (2007/2008) revealed that 1,767,200 people, or 4.26% of the British population, cycle at least once per week for more than 30 minutes. That is an increase of 132,000 people since 2005/2006 and reveals cycling as the second fastest growing sport in the country. The survey showed that, combined, sport and recreational cycling had an increase of 334,700 participants over the period.
The popularity comes after Britain excelled in cycling at the Olympic Games this summer in Beijing, China.
"This is a unique moment in time for cycling, from our success in Beijing in the summer through to the immense number of people getting involved in the sport. When you take cycling as a sport, recreational activity and form of transport it would easily make cycling the number one and fastest growing activity in England," said BC chief executive Ian Drake.
"However, I believe that this is just the beginning. We are now awaiting confirmation of funding from Sport England to allow us to grow our programmes and to grow the sport even more between 2009 and 2013. With the anticipated support from Sport England combined with our partnership with BSKYB, British Cycling has the potential to make the single biggest contribution to more people playing sport in the run up to London 2012 and beyond."
The number and variety of cycling events available for all sorts of cyclists to take part in has also grown rapidly in recent years under the umbrella of British Cycling. Between 2005 and 2007 there has been a 14% rise in the number of competitive events and a 47% increase in non-competitive events. The number of people taking part in these events has risen by 48% and 255% respectively.
In 2007, more than 2,500 cycling events were affiliated with British Cycling. There were also around 1400 affiliated cycling clubs throughout the country.