Britain might overtake Netherlands as bike capital of Europe, says Halfords

August Graham, PA City Reporter

Britons are on their way to owning as many bicycles as the Dutch, according to bike sellers at Halfords, who said the UK could overtake the Netherlands in five years.

British cyclists have been snapping up new bikes at high speed during the pandemic, as transport options were limited or seen as less safe than in the past.

Bikes have been used for transport, exercise and leisure.

Halfords said that the UK could become the bike capital of Europe if it continues at its current rate of growth.

Before the pandemic started there were 4.2 bikes for every 10 people in the UK. In the Netherlands the same figure is more than 13.

It leaves Britons still well behind their Dutch counterparts. But the bike market has increased by an average of 4% a month since lockdown started in March.

“It may seem unlikely that the UK could ever match Holland for cycling enthusiasts, but we really have seen an astonishing level of uptake in the past 12 months,” said Paul Tomlinson, Halfords cycling director.

Between May and October last year, Halfords says cycling sales were 54% above the levels seen in the same period in 2019.

“We’re doing our best to meet demand but when stock reaches our stores it gets snapped up very quickly,” said Mr Tomlinson.

“We’re working night and day with our suppliers to increase availability. We’re encouraging customers to subscribe to our ‘email me when back in stock’ service which is proving extremely popular.”

The company said there is no sign that demand is slowing down.

The company has repaired or serviced 750,000 bikes since May last year. It said that electric bikes are also proving increasingly popular, not least among delivery riders for gig economy services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, who rely on the bikes to help make a living.

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