Cycling Trends: The 2012 Legacy?

The above graph shows the trend in the number of times that the word "cycling" has been queried on Google and in headline news in the past 10 years. Does it suggest a 2012 Olympic legacy? Or a failure?

A friend recently asked me what it means, so I thought I would put forward my explanation in a blog post.

The initial reaction to the graph is likely to be surprise that there has been a significant decline in the height of interest since 2004. To some extent, I think you can ignore the first part of the graph however, this period was plagued by doping scandals and press attention that ultimately cycling did not want.

The best period to look at is 2011 and beyond. Bearing in mind this is only searching the English word "Cycling", most of the data is from English speaking countries. 2011 saw Cadel Evans' victory at the Tour de France, causing the significant growth in the July spike, particularly from Australian searchers/readers.

The biggest peak though, was clearly the 2012 TDF and Olympic games combo. The success of Team GB and Bradley Wiggins had an undeniably positive effect on getting #cycling trending.

Did it leave a legacy though? Or does the fact that the numbers dropped away sharply again in 2013, and Google forecasts nothing dramatic for this year, suggest that there has been a loss of interest?

No, it doesn't. Cycling is growing, there's no denying it. The Times published an article last year (Link) demonstrating that there was a 155% increase in cycling to work over the past decade. The number of bike sales is climbing year on year, and cycling continues to be triumphed as a sustainable source of transport.

Getting "cycling" into the news can be a benefit (when it's a positive outlook), but in recent years I like to think that more people are taking up the sport not so much because it is "trendy", but because they see real value in it, and most of all enjoy it.

The "Wiggo Effect" may not have been sustained in the media, but in terms of the number of people choosing to saddle up and 'Get Out There', there is definitely a significant legacy.

Ride London: Photo credit: Gus Farmer

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