THE Cotswolds has seen the biggest drop in people cycling to work than anywhere else in the South West.

New data supplied by the Office for National Statistics shows that in the last 10 years, there has been a drop of 26 per cent in the number of Cotswold people taking their bike to work.

In 2001, it was recorded that 1,119 commuters opted to cycle to work but in 2011 the number had fallen by 290 to just 829.

The drop, which is the biggest in the South West, is in stark contrast to a national trend of more people choosing to get to work by bike.

Shipton-based cyclist Paul Morrish believes that cycling in the Cotswolds has suffered in recent years because of the district’s rural roads.

“Vehicles are getting wider which means less space on the roads for bikes, pedestrians and horses,” he said.

“Pot holes are potentially lethal to cyclists. Hit one and you can be thrown off, avoid one and you can be killed if you swerve.”

Last month the Standard reported that a 15-year-old cyclist from Malmesbury suffered a broken collar bone and deep cuts to his face when he was thrown from his bike after hitting a deep pothole in Daglingworth.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, county councillor for Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach, told the Standard that he has written to Gloucestershire Highways asking for more to be done to improve roads across the Cotswolds.

“The county has a lot to do to improve the conditions on its roads and to encourage people to cycle so they feel safe,” he said.

“While cycling to work in rural area will always be more difficult we can take steps to make it real option for people.”

Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has also joined the campaign to get more people in the Cotswolds cycling again.

The MP said he is very keen to see a safe cycle route between Tetbury and Westonbirt and would also like to see disused railways lines between Kemble and Cirencester turned into cycle trails.