THE Tour de France has been credited with helping inspire a large increase in the number of people getting on their bikes in Darlington.
Cycling fever has gripped the town this summer, with recent figures showing the number of cyclists in the borough has increased by 24 per cent.
The cycle cordon count is carried out in the town centre every quarter and monitors the number of people cycling at 12 separate locations.
July saw a 24 per cent increase on the same quarter last year and a 65 per cent increase on the quarter to April this year.
Local Motion, Darlington’s sustainable transport team, has been running its Big Summer campaign, aimed at getting people out and about by foot and by bike.
It has highlighted a series of walking and cycling events and activities taking place over the summer.
The Grand Depart of the Tour may also have inspired Darlington residents to get back on their bikes, along with recently-opened cycle parking.
The 24-hour facility in front of the Darlington Town Hall is free for Darlington residents to use once they’ve registered.
Organisers say it is ideally located for shopping and makes commuting to town by bike an even more attractive option.
Councillor David Lyonette, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for transport said:
"The summer is the perfect time to start getting out and about and making positive changes to the way we travel.
"The campaign has hopefully shown people how enjoyable walking and cycling can be, as well as demonstrating the health and environmental benefits which come from active travel.
"These figures are very encouraging and hopefully they’ll continue throughout the year."
David Buckingham, from Skinnergate charity Bike Stop, which sells restored bikes to support the work of homelessness charity First Stop, said: "Austerity has helped boost cycling, people are not driving because they can no longer afford to.
"Often people ride during the week and save their cars for the weekend.
"Health concerns are also a factor."
Funded by the Department for Transport, Local Motion is supported by the council and aims to encourage sustainable modes of transport, including walking, cycling and using public transport.
For more information about Local Motion and the Big Summer campaign, visit dothelocalmotion.co.uk or follow @DoLocalMotion on Twitter.