Northern Ireland less cycle friendly than rest of UK


As Cost-Of-Living Drives 35% to Substitute Car for Bike has revealed the best cities across the UK for cycling, with Belfast being the only place in Northern Ireland to make it into the top 20. The financial comparison site’s findings are based on the number of mapped cycleways for push bikes across the UK.

Northern Ireland had the least amount of cities on the list, with Belfast being the only place from Northern Ireland in the top 20.

The lack of cycling friendly routes and facilities in Northern Ireland is reflected in recent government data.  In the most recent ‘Walking, Cycling and Public Transport in Northern Ireland report’ less than half (46%) of respondents said they were satisfied with cycling facilities in their area, down from 53% in the previous year’s report.

The same report found that just a third of respondents (33%) said they owned or had access to a bicycle. In addition to this, of those who owned or had access to a bicycle, just over a third (34%) had cycled in the previous four weeks.*

The Department for Transport’s National Travel Attitudes Survey has shown that due to the cost-of-living crisis, 35% of the UK now choose to cycle or walk some of their journeys, rather than getting behind the wheel.**

The cost of driving has rapidly increased over the past few years – notably, the rise in fuel prices (petrol now costs over 150p per litre for the first time in 12 months),*** as well as car insurance costs soaring (with premiums now up by over 50%).****

This means that many people are now thinking twice about driving – with cycling being an environmentally friendly, healthy, and significantly cheaper, option.

Air pollution poses the biggest environmental hazard to human health across the United Kingdom – contributing to a range of both short-term and long-term health impacts.  According to IQAir’s World Air Quality Report, Belfast was the UK’s 3rd most polluted city out of a total of 130 cities reported.*****

Ian Wilson, Managing Director at said:  “It’s tough at the moment as the cost-of-living crisis starts to squeeze all aspects of our lives, with fuel prices and car insurance costs skyrocketing, making fewer motorists able to afford driving, but it is a positive step forward to see more people consider cycling as an option.

“People are considering those quick, jump in the car journeys and substituting them for walking or cycling which is great for their health and a positive step forward in reducing the number of cars on the roads – improving the environment and our physical and mental wellbeing.

“It is disappointing that only one area from Northern Ireland is on the list especially since Belfast is reportedly the third most polluted city in the UK.  If these pedestrian trends continue and more cyclists try substituting cars and public transport, the hope is more investment will come from government and local authorities to focus on growing bike lanes and suitable facilities.

“Inner city cycling can be very dangerous especially if not on one of the dedicated cycleways so it’s important all road users be aware of each other and respectful of the time and space cyclists need. Cyclist and bicycle insurance can help safeguard both bike and rider in case of an incident.”

Cycleways are high-quality cycle routes that are easy to navigate – linking communities and businesses – ensuring riders of all levels can feel safe and confident.

With millions making the change from four wheels to two, has now looked at the best cities across the UK for cyclists – based on the number of mapped bike ways each area has.

The research shows that London is the best city for cyclists with over 300,000 cycleways – Edinburgh follows in second place with almost 100,000 less paths.

All three capital cities across the four nations feature on the top 20 list – with Belfast being the only capital city to just miss out on a top 10 place, ranking in eleventh with 59,077 mapped cycleways.

Here are the top 20 cycle-friendly cities across the UK, from


For all types of bicycle insurance, including electric bike, can help.


Please note there was no data available for the following cities: Newcastle, St. Albans, Westminster, St. Asaph and St. Davids.

Number of mapped ways sourced from BikeMap (correct as of 18/09/23) –






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