Scotland continues to see ‘significant’ increase in cycling during lockdown

Parts of Scotland are continuing to see a significant increase in people cycling during lockdown.

According to statistics released yesterday by Cycling Scotland, a counter in Denny recorded an increase of 318% in May, with Livingston seeing a 249% uplift, compared to May 2019.Cycling Scotland has a network of automatic cycle counters across the country. The information was collected as part of the National Monitoring Framework, managed by Cycling Scotland and funded by Transport Scotland, to monitor cycling rates across the country.

The nation’s cycling organisation compared the average number of people cycling per day in May this year to the same period in 2019. Across all counters from which data was available, the number of people cycling increased by 77%. Cycling Scotland has also released the results of a survey of 2,035 people living in Scotland to see how cycling behaviour might change post-lockdown.

More than one in four people living in Scotland (26%) said having more dedicated cycle paths would be the most likely change to encourage them to cycle once lockdown is lifted. The figure rose to almost two thirds (63%) for those who only started cycling during lockdown.

The survey also found that 14% of people in Scotland said they think they will cycle more once lockdown ends. The figure was higher among 18-24 year-olds (20%). 11% of 18-24 year-olds said they started cycling during lockdown, with this figure being 4% across all age groups. Of those who started cycling during lockdown, the top three reasons were: the weather was good (62%), it improved wellbeing (57%) and less traffic on the roads (50%).

Chief executive of Cycling Scotland Keith Irving said: “One of the few positives of COVID-19 lockdown is the continued and significant increase in cycling in Scotland, particularly those new to cycling. The marked increase in the number of 18-24 year-olds discovering cycling during lockdown is also really encouraging.

“During annual Bike Week, we raise awareness of the many benefits cycling offers including physical and mental health. For those we surveyed that were new to cycling during lockdown, 57% said improved wellbeing was the reason they got on their bikes. Understandably, less traffic was a major factor in why more people are on their bikes and our research shows that dedicated cycling paths will keep people cycling beyond lockdown.

“Scottish Government’s funding for temporary bike lanes and wider pavements is a welcome intervention to help local authorities progress this quickly. Enabling people to cycle by increasing our network of inclusive, separate cycle lanes, increasing access to bikes and places to store them, can help us create a healthier, sustainable, new normal for everyone.”

Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson added: “I’m pleased that people across Scotland have been able to discover or reconnect with cycling during our period of lockdown. As we transition through and out of the COVID-19 crisis, we’re continuing to ask people to walk and cycle if they need to travel in order to help manage demand on the transport network. At the same, I’m encouraged that Cycling Scotland and others are celebrating the many other benefits that cycling can bring as part of Bike Week 2020.

“It’s clear from the Cycling Scotland survey that infrastructure remains key, and I have reallocated £30 million in order to put forward a package of support for our local authorities, administered by Sustrans Scotland, to implement temporary active travel measures. This is already helping to ensure that people can walk, cycle and wheel during this public health emergency whilst physically distancing and protecting them from traffic.

“We know that infrastructure alone will not encourage more people out of cars and on to bikes. We must also provide access to bikes and supportive behaviour change programmes. Our Active Travel Delivery Partners, working with community organisations across the country, are continuing to provide free bicycle access and maintenance to our key workers.

“Cycling brings huge benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing, while at the same time protecting our air quality, climate and helping to manage demand on our public transport network. This government will continue to do what it can to encourage an Active Nation and support walking, cycling and wheeling where we can.”

Bike Week is an annual celebration of cycling, in partnership with Cycling UK, with the aim of encouraging more people to cycle more often. It is taking place between 6th-14th June this year.

The cycling lockdown survey was undertaken by YouGov Plc on behalf of Cycling Scotland and funded by Transport Scotland. The total sample size was 2,035 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th-22nd May 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Scotland (aged 18+).

In other news...

Government seeks views on boosting rural transport connectivity with e-bikes and digital mapping

Drone deliveries and digital mapping for easy-to-access walking and cycling routes could soon be a …