CYCLING in Cheltenham has really clicked up a gear.
Surveys by volunteers from The Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Cycle Campaign show the number of people making regular journeys by two wheels in the town has increased by more than a fifth in each of the past two years.
The town has been one of the leaders in the number of regular cyclists for some time, according to the figures produced by the campaign's counts.
The number of regular bike riders stayed at similar levels for several years, while in most other towns cycling levels diminished.
But for a while, Cheltenham did not appear to be part of the national trend which has seen cycling on the up – until now.
Chairman of Cycle Cheltenham and Tewkesbury John Mallows said: "It was no mean achievement to maintain levels of cycling here in Cheltenham when in most other towns it was falling.
"But now Cheltenham has joined the national trend for big growths in cycling and current plans to improve access to the town centre for bikes can only boost numbers further."
Mr Mallows added: "The reason for more cycling is probably some combination of fuel prices, congestion, health benefits and the 'Olympic effect'.
"Also as friends and work colleagues start to cycle, people become more aware of how convenient and quick a trip by bike can be.
"Research has repeatedly shown that people who cycle regularly have better health, and live longer, on average, than those who don't."
The twice-yearly counts in nine locations across Cheltenham have been made for more than a decade, starting in 2002.
The data they collect is used by both Gloucestershire County Council and Cheltenham Borough Council as an essential help in informing their transport planning.
The counts in 2012 and 2013 were made during two hours each at the morning peak of rush hour.
In April last year, 948 cyclists were noted, whereas that number had risen to 1,168 in the same month this year.
Last October, 1,031 riders were counted but that figure was 1,244 on the latest survey this month.
Mr Mallows said: "The figures are not at all an accurate picture of the total number of people cycling – which would require much bigger surveys – but it has proved to be reliable as an indication of trends."