HAMPSHIRE is one of the “cycling to work” capitals of the country, it has been revealed.

Latest figures have found that 20,658 people pedal to work in the county every day, making Hampshire the fifth most popular region to cycle to the office in England and Wales.

But it comes as plans for a £2m “Boris Bike” hire scheme for the New Forest is likely to be ditched at a special meeting of the National Park Authority tomorrow.

As reported last week, concerns over “major anti-cycling sentiment” in the Forest and worries over securing sponsorship have led members to call for the scheme – included as part of £3.5m funding from the Department of Transport – to be rejected.

This is despite a procurement process securing the service of company B-Cycle to implement around 250 bikes in 20 different New Forest locations.

The study into cycling to work showed that 741,000 people in England and Wales saddled up for the morning and evening commute.

Greater London topped the chart, with 155,000 cycling to the office each day, with Cambridgeshire second and Greater Manchester third.

Pipping Hampshire to fourth place was Oxfordshire, which has 23,101 cyclists commuting every day.

Dan Simson, head of Privilege Home Insurance, which carried out the study, called the figures “encouraging”.

He said: “Cycling is a healthy, cost-effective and eco-friendly means of transport and it’s encouraging to see how many people choose to cycle to work around the country.

“It is, of course, very important for cyclists to stay safe while commuting and to secure their bicycles once they have arrived at the workplace.

“Having a good home insurance policy that provides cycle cover both at home and while out and about offers the best of both worlds to our two-wheeled commuters.”

Cycling to work is much less popular in other local authorities, such as Merthyr Tydfil, which has just 80 people using bicycles to the office.