Top 10 motorcycling areas in the UK

Where are there the most bikes? Official figures reveal all

THE sheer amount of data – some useful, others less so – collated by government about our motorcycling habits is astounding and trawling through it occasionally kicks up nuggets of information that we’d otherwise have no way of knowing.

Like, for instance, the number of bikes licenced in each local authority area in the UK. It gives a clue as to not only the absolute figures but also, via a bit of number crunching, lets us establish what percentage of vehicles in each area motorcycles represent.

So here are the top 10 motorcycle hotspots, in terms of numbers of bikes licenced in each local authority area.

10. Derbyshire - 20,510 bikes (3.76% of vehicles)

With attractions like the Peak District National Park and Matlock Bath, it’s not surprising that bikes are popular in Derbyshire. Making up 3.76% of the vehicles licenced there, the proportion is above the national average of around 3.6%, too.

Image: Henry Burrows via Flicker, under license from Creative Commons.

9. Devon - 21,295 bikes (3.97% of vehicles)

With a large area and low population density compared to most of the country, Devon isn’t short of reasons to ride. Again, there’s a higher proportion of bikes compared to other vehicles living here than the national average. It’s no coincidence that the south west is also the region with the highest number of bikes per head of population, with 29.1 motorcycles per 1000 people.

Image: Roy Hughes under license from Creative Commons.

8. Suffolk, 21,331 bikes (4.34% of vehicles)

We go from the west to the east to get to our next biking hotspot, with Suffolk turning out to not only be high in its total number of bikes but also soaring way above average in terms of the proportion of traffic that they account for. The east of England is another place where bike ownership is higher than average (UK average is 20.8 bikes per 1000 people, the East has 24.6 per 1000).

Image: Adrian Cable, under license from Creative Commons.

7. Hertfordshire - 21,606 (3.07% of vehicles)

Hertfordshire’s total bike count places it seventh on the list, but that’s perhaps a reflection of its high population rather than a particular passion for two wheels. In fact, the ratio of bikes to other vehicles is lower than the national average at 3.07%.

Image: Robin Webster, under license from Creative Commons.

6. Lancashire - 24,047 (3.6% of vehicles)

Lancashire’s large number of bikes again reflects the fairly large area and big population it has, since the actual rate of bike ownership there in terms of the ratio of bikes to cars appears to be pretty much in line with the UK average.

Image: Benjamin Hopkins, under license from Creative Commons

5. Norfolk - 25,153 bikes (4.45% of vehicles)

Bike fans must like coastal areas, and the east of England in particular. Norfolk doesn’t just have a large overall number of bikes on its roads but also a higher percentage of bikes compared to other vehicles than any other area on this list.

Image: Evelyn Simak, under license from Creative Commons.

4. Surrey - 28,429 bikes (3.72% of vehicles)

If this was a list of the concentration of Ducatis, new BMWs and MV Agustas, the affluent Surrey stockbroker belt would surely be number one. As it is, the overall number of bikes registered in the area is high enough for fourth place.

Image: Ordnance Survey OpenData, under license from Creative Commons.

3. Essex - 32,235 bikes (3.55% of vehicles)

While officially part of the east of England, the bike-to-car ratio in Essex is just below the national average and doesn’t actually appear to reflect the fact that the east is the most concentrated area of bikes-per-head-of-population in the country. But Essex is the second most populous ‘two tier’ county in the country, so still makes it near the top of the list.

Image: Ashley Dace, under license from Creative Commons.

2. Kent - 34,736 bikes (3.89% of vehicles)

Kent is another densely-populated county but unlike Essex, its ratio of bikes to cars is also above the usual 3.6%, helping push it to second place on the list. With nearly 35,000 bikes licenced there during the thirdquarter of 2015, it’s second only to…

Image: David Anstiss, under licence from Creative Commons.

1. Hampshire - 37,905 bikes (3.92% of vehicles)

…Hampshire. With 37,905 bikes in the local authority area, it’s the nation’s number one. In terms of frequency, bikes make up 3.92% of all vehicles registered there, which is above the national average, so high population alone isn’t the reason for its position here.

Image: Barrry Shimmon, under license from Creative Commons.

And some other facts about bikes in the UK:

Here’s how the popularity of bikes is split around the country in terms of the number of motorcycles per head of population.

South West: 29.1

South East: 25.1

East of England: 24.6

East Midlands: 24.5

Yorkshire and Humberside: 20.3

West Midlands: 19.6

Wales: 19.5

North West: 17.6

North East: 16.8

London: 15.0

Scotland: 14.6

Northern Ireland: 13.8


And the top 10 local authorities in London, by number of bikes registered in each:

Wandsworth: 6739

Bromley: 6061

Ealing: 5471

Croydon: 5404

Lambeth: 5002

Barnet: 4856

Bexley: 4636

Richmond upon Thames: 4534

Hillingdon: 4485

Hounslow: 4252

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