Positive news for cycling as large numbers of commuters say post-pandemic, they will ditch their current choice of transport in favour of the bicycle.
As many as five million commuters could take to two wheels in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic an ICM poll for Shand Cycles indicates. A figure supported by research from cycling charity Cycling UK, which revealed in a poll conducted by YouGov, that 36% of people questioned will rethink their travel habits in the future to use cars and motor vehicles less. It seems clear that with the ongoing necessity for social distancing, commuters are looking to change their behaviours.
Cycling has a momentum behind it that has not been seen for many years. The unique and unprecedented situation of a global pandemic has forced government and planners to take cycling seriously. We need more commuters to take to their bikes to ease the pressure on public transport and allow for social distancing. If public transport commuters switched to single-occupancy cars, instead of walking or cycling, then our towns and cities will soon be subject to hellish congestion and gridlock.
Cycling is showing early signs that it is getting the support required to make a tangible difference. The Prime Minister said this should be the golden age for cycling, while the Transport Secretary announced major funding to encourage more people to cycle as an alternative to public transport. However, for commuters to make a lasting behavioural change so that cycling becomes their first choice of transport, several barriers need to be addressed. Dedicated cycle lanes, traffic calming and workplace facilities are crucial in changing habits.
Reporting on the Cycling UK survey, Cycling Industry News revealed that more than two thirds of those questioned wanted to see traffic-free cycle tracks and paths along high streets and within town centres, while over half called for more designated cycle lanes on roads. A third of respondents want to see traffic restrictions in residential streets, and 24% would like the speed limit reduced to 20mph in residential and built up areas.
Shand Cycles’ research similarly highlighted the importance of safety and infrastructure, in ensuring that those who said they would like to commute by bike, are able to make the leap to doing so. 28% of those surveyed said calmer traffic would encourage them to commute by bike, while 26% cited dedicated cycle lanes and traffic priority schemes.
For cycling to reach its full potential, everyone must pull together. Employers have a significant role to play in creating a cycling friendly environment. Improved changing and showering facilities at work would prompt 16% of commuters to consider taking up cycling, while 13% would be encouraged by financial incentives to pay for a bike such as the Government’s Cycle to Work scheme.
Ann Ritchie-Cox, General Manager of Shand Cycles, said: “Cycling has been one of the few outdoor activities permitted during lockdown and that’s led to a lot of people rediscovering the pleasure of getting on two wheels. As the nation goes back to work, social distancing is going to be a huge challenge for those who previously used rush-hour public transport. So all the evidence points to a shift in behaviour towards trying out alternative modes of transport – including the bicycle.”
Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “The huge increase in people cycling during this crisis demonstrates that people will change their travel behaviour and choose to cycle if it feels safe. For many, that means being separated from motor traffic as the roads become busier, otherwise cycling to work won’t look like the natural choice it should be for short journeys.”
“It’s about enabling people to cycle, not just encouraging, which means local authorities must act immediately to install pop-up cycle lanes and temporary infrastructure that makes cycling a safe, socially distancing alternative for their commute to work.”