London 2012 Olympics and the Cycling Legacy Which Remains

29th September 2014

When the impressive 2012 Olympics closed there was a lot of talk about a lasting legacy of passion for sports and a reignited desire in our country’s youngsters to take up a sport. Two years on we look at what our Olympic cycling efforts have done…

Looking into reports at the time of the London 2012 Olympics, there was a great buzz about a lasting legacy, with a core focus of boosting the uptake of Olympic sports across the UK.

The actual bid to host the Games was focused on creating this legacy for a whole country:

“Five promises were made regarding the long-term benefits of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games:

  1. To make the UK a world-leading sporting nation
  2. To transform the heart of East London
  3. To inspire a generation of young people
  4. To make the Olympic Park a blueprint for sustainable living
  5. To demonstrate that the UK is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live in, to visit and for business.” [Source: Parliament UK]

Instead, a 2013 report revealed:

“Despite the “inspire a generation” rhetoric used to justify the investment in the London 2012 Olympics, new official figures show that the number of 16 to 25-year-olds playing sport has gone down since the Games.” [Source]

Interestingly, there have been regular reports and articles on the supposed legacy from the Olympic Games, but what about cycling itself?

We at Bike Bus certainly think there’s been an increased interest and uptake in the sport, but what do official reports suggest?

The Cycling Legacy

A one-year on report from The Guardian newspaper suggested that Cycling was thriving on the successes of British cyclists at the 2012 Olympics and our Tour de France win:

“Earlier this year, membership of the governing body, British Cycling, hit 75,000, an increase of 50% since Bradley Wiggins’s Tour de France win in 2012. The number of cycling clubs has increased by 100 in the last 12 months to over 1,700, while numbers are up strongly in both competitive and non-competitive events. Infrastructure continues to expand, with the velodrome in Glasgow opening last autumn, the London “Pringle” going public this winter and a new indoor track being built in the East Midlands.” [Source: The Guardian]

However, looking further into the subject there are some serious struggles that Britain must overcome if it is to fully embrace cycling’s current increased popularity:

“While some aspects of cycling have experienced a notable growth in recent years, with an estimated 2.5 million people lining the first two stages of this year’s Tour de France in Yorkshire, only about 2% of trips in Britain are made by bike.” [Source: The Guardian]

Additionally, the report found that cities outside of London have an average annual spend of £2 a person for cycling infrastructure. These numbers are not encouraging people to take up the sport as a transport solution, with cycling fatalities in London also up since the 2012 Olympic Games.

“Experienced racers complain that the influx of uncoached newbies without a club background has caused an increase in accidents… Fatalities among cyclists using Britain’s roads rose 10% in 2012… Statistics imply that the medals and participation statistics have not made the roads any safer for those on two wheels.”

To summarise, it would seem that cycling has certainly had more success and growth than other Olympic sports, with suggestions that cycling remains “the next big thing” for British sports. However, there is not enough being done on a financial and safety level to further integrate it into our daily lives.

There are also some eyebrows raised about the actual impact of the London 2012 Olympics and whether it was an already rapidly growing sport, along with the medal win of Bradley Wiggins in 2012’s Tour de France.

Bike Bus think there has been an excellent combination of factors, not least the services and encouragement from local cycling groups and bicycle shops helping to promote the sport on a grassroots level.

What do you think? Has there been an increase in membership of your local cycling group or are you seeing more people commuting by bicycle? Let us know at @UKBikeBus!

Comments are closed however feel free to tweet us your thoughts.