Cycling up 47% in Scotland in year since first lockdown

Scotland has seen a surge in the number of people cycling in the past 12 months, according to data from the nation’s cycling organisation.

Statistics released today, 6th April, by Cycling Scotland show 47% more cycling journeys were recorded between 23rd March 2020 and 22nd March 2021 compared to the same period 2019­–2020.

Since COVID-19 restrictions first came into force on 23rd March 2020, the nation’s cycling organisation has released regular updates on the number of people cycling in Scotland, using its nationwide network of automatic cycle counters to compile the data. Increases of 68% in April, 77% in May, 63% in June, 44% in July and 33% in August were recorded, compared to the same months in 2019.

September saw a rise of 32%, followed by October (22%), November (7%) and December (4%). During bad weather in January this year, cycling numbers decreased 14% before rising 20% in February. And today, Cycling Scotland also announced its latest monthly figures, using data from 47 automatic cycle counters nationwide.

The statistics reveal a 52% increase in the number of people cycling across the nation between 1st-22nd March 2021 versus the same three weeks in 2020 – before the first COVID-19 restrictions were introduced in Scotland. 20 counters saw a year-on-year increase of more than 100%, with counters in Girvan (Victory Park Road), Callander (Glen Gardens) and Dunoon (Victoria Parade) showing hikes of 256, 179 and 113% respectively.

The information was collected as part of the National Monitoring Framework, managed by Cycling Scotland, to monitor cycling rates across the country.

Cycling Scotland chief executive Keith Irving said: “It has been a horrendous year, but one of the few bright spots has been more people getting back on their bikes. Cycling has a key role to play in people getting exercise and fresh air, managing the ongoing pressure on our transport system and, crucially, tackling the global climate emergency we face.

“We’re delighted at the massive increase in cycling and it’s vital we see it continue and expand. To get even more people cycling, we need to invest more in infrastructure so people feel safe to cycle. We need more dedicated cycle lanes, separated from vehicles and pedestrians. We need to reduce traffic, especially on residential and shopping streets. And we need to increase access to bikes and storage to tackle the barriers too many people face so anyone, anywhere can enjoy all the benefits of cycling.

“Helping far more people to cycle is key in delivering a green recovery from COVID and supporting a just transition towards a net-zero Scotland. Every journey cycled will make a difference.”

Shared transport charity Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK), which promotes shared bike schemes, has welcomed the findings from Cycling Scotland.
Last year, free 30-minute bike share trips were introduced in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling, funded by Transport Scotland, which directly resulted in more people cycling either to work or for leisure.

Lorna Finlayson, Scotland director of CoMoUK, said: “It’s very welcome there has been such a sharp rise in cycling, and bike share schemes will have played a significant role in this. Bike-sharing schemes across Scotland have improved physical and mental health and are a catalyst for people to re-engage with cycling.

“We found that 59% of users in Scotland were inspired to re-engage with cycling after years away from a bike, while 41% said the initiatives had reduced their dependence on cars. The COVID pandemic has presented many challenges when it comes to shared transport priorities, but if this kind of progress can be made during the worst of years, it’s exciting to think about the difference we can make as we come out of lockdown and begin the recovery.”

Read the April issue of BikeBiz below:

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