Urban Cycling

What is England’s Best City for Cycling?

This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.

A new study published by Toothpick has ranked all of the UK’s cities and towns based on how ‘bike friendly’ they are. Toothpick’s study used data collected by the Ministry of Transport and Sport England about the number of people who cycle regularly (at least once a week). Cities were ranked according to criteria such as the local cycling culture, safety, and how bike-friendly a city is.

However, the study not only looks at how bicycle-friendly places are, but attempts to give a general oversight regarding healthy access of each town: taking into account how suited places are for walking, the amount of greenspace, as well as access to GPs, dentists and hospitals.

See below the best and worst ranked cities in England for cycling, and further below for general health. Do you agree with the findings? Comment below.

England’s Top Ranked Cities for Cycling


There were three joint winners of the healthy access study in to cycling, with Oxford, Cambridge and the Isles of Scilly coming joint top with the best score in England. There certainly seems to be an overwhelming trend of the best ranked cycling cities also being situated in the south. York was the highest ranked major northern city, with a score of 9.8 in ninth place. Other major cities worth noting were Exeter who managed 9.5, Norwich with 9.7 and a reasonable 7.4 for Manchester.

According to the study, Cambridge gets a 10/10 score in terms how popular, easy, and safe it is to cycle in and around town. The report revealed that approximately 49 per cent of the local population aged 16 and over cycled at least once a week. Moreover, 58 per cent of the adult population claimed to cycle at least once a month. Cambridge also has a large amount of regular bikers, as 26 per cent of the population claimed to cycle five days a week, which suggests that cycling is a safe and popular way of commuting in Cambridge. A 2011 article published in The Guardian stated that 20 per cent of all trips made within the city are bike trips.

Of course, these “cycling cities” pale into comparison to those you’d find in Europe. But unless you’re willing to grab a visa and move abroad, these our Britain’s best.

Lowest Ranked Cities for Cycling


At the other end of the spectrum, Oldham and the small town of Bolsover, Derbyshire, won the wooden spoon with a woeful score. Of the major cities, the likes of Birmingham (1.5), City of London (3.5), Leeds (3.4), Newcastle (2.2), Nottingham (3.8), Plymouth (3.6) and Liverpool (2.2) all scored poorly.

Top Ranked ‘Healthy Access’ Cities


On the overall score for healthy access, the Isles of Scilly once again topped the table with a 10/10 score, comfortably beating Mid Suffolk in second with 9.1.

Lowest Ranked ‘Healthy Access’ Cities


Again, Oldham were at the bottom of the overall scoring with a miserable 1/10 score.

How healthy is your area?


To find out more about your town’s score, visit healthy access and check out the study on the best UK cities to cycle.

Comment below with how well your area did.


Discerning Cyclist Store

Visit the Discerning Cyclist's Shop

Ride in style

Join our weeky newsletter to get early access to our latest discoveries.

Related reads