Cycling booms by up to 199% during coronavirus crisis

Cycling rates across Scotland have increased by nearly half during the Covid-19 crisis compared to last year, new figures showed today

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 7:00 am
Cyclists taking advantage of a traffic-free route
Cyclists taking advantage of a traffic-free route

A rise of 43 per cent between March and August has been recorded by official development body Cycling Scotland.

The latest statistics, from 46 automatic cycle counters, also revealed rates were up by a third last month in comparison with 12 months ago, showing the growth is slowing.

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The biggest increase was on Clyde Street in Glasgow city centre, where a new bike lane is thought to have contributed to cycling rates nearly tripling with a 199 per cent increase.

Cycling has more than doubled in several areas.

They more than doubled on Kingseat Road in Dunfermline, Ayr Road in Newton Mearns, the Clyde Walkway in Cambuslang and on Arbroath Road in Dundee.

The figures come two days after The Scotsman revealed Edinburgh bike hire scheme Just Eat Cycles, the fastest growing in the UK, has expanded from the city to Musselburgh in East Lothian.

It expects to clock up nearly 250,000 hires this year, twice as many as in 2019.

Cycling campaigners welcomed the increase in bike use but said new segregated lanes on roads should be expanded urgently to improve safety.

Cycling Scotland chief executive Keith Irving said: “In the past six months, we’ve all seen our lives radically change.

"One of the few positive changes is that more people have returned to cycling or started to cycle.

“We expected the progressive lifting of lockdown restrictions in most areas would affect cycling numbers, and for the second month running we are seeing these increases start to slow slightly.

Redouble

“It’s heartening that cycling is still a third higher this August compared to last.

"As we move into winter, the public health evidence clearly suggests we should try to be active and outside as much as possible.

“Cycling – and walking and wheeling – are great ways to achieve this.

“Cycling also has a key role to play in tackling the climate emergency and the pressures on our transport systems that face us as a nation.

“Today’s data demonstrates we need to redouble efforts to limit polluting traffic growth and enable more people to cycle, through infrastructure investment, creating green jobs in our economic recovery.

“To sustain Scotland’s renewed interest in cycling long-term, we need separate cycle lanes to keep people safe from traffic, as well as support for people to access bikes, training and storage.”

‘Vital’

That call was echoed by Spokes, the Lothian cycle campaign, which said the creation of new lanes had been accelerated by the pandemic.

Spokesperson Dave du Feu said: “It is great to see the growth in bike use, but to maintain this in the face of growing motor traffic, protected cycle facilities are vital.

“The Covid crisis has shown this is eminently feasible.

“Previously, Edinburgh had a five-year project to install segregated cycle lanes from George Street to the Meadows.

“Thanks to the Scottish Government’s new Covid street design rules, the council has been able to do this, albeit in a temporary ‘try then modify’ form, in five weeks instead of five years.

“We need this urgently in built-up areas right across Scotland.”

The other cycle counters were in Ardrossan, Barrhead, Bathgate, Broxburn, Callander, Dalbeattie, Dunoon, Forres, Grangemouth. Helensburgh, Irvine, Kirkcaldy, Larbert, Largs, Lenzie, Livingston, Perth, Shetland and Stirling.

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