The latest figures from the Department for Transport show the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on cycling and active transport. The new report, National Travel Attitudes, reveals a 138% increase in people walking or cycling for exercise compared with 2019 and that 34% of those who cycled in 2019 cycled more in 2020.
Cycling is one of the very few winners in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but thanks to fears over the safety of public transport, the ‘Stay At Home’ instruction and cycling being listed as an accepted activity for your once-a-day exercise, cycling uptake has increased from 2019 to 2020. The Department for Transport annual survey, conducted in two sampling stages, the first one running from May till July 2020 and the second one running from August till September 2020, revealed some interesting changes in active transport.
A third of people are cycling more
With gyms and swimming pools closed and team sports cancelled, cycling, along with walking and running, has helped save the nation’s physical fitness. Two thirds of those surveyed had “in the past seven days” been out on a bike for essential travel or daily exercise. Of those surveyed, 16% had been on a bike ride for leisure and 10% for transport. 34% of cyclists (those who already cycled in 2019) reported that they had been cycling more than before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
A positive legacy of COVID-19
The survey results suggest that bicycle use will remain higher, even after the pandemic has passed. 95% say they will continue their active travel habit, while 94% intend to walk more. This may be due to concerns over any form of public transport: 90% are concerned by using the London Underground; 88% by air travel and 82% trains. 65% say they will be less likely to use crowded services than prior to the pandemic. All factors that are driving people towards personal transport solutions such as walking, cycling and, unfortunately for congestion levels, driving.
Supporting the surge in cycling
With such a shift in attitudes away from public transport towards active travel, it would seem the time is ripe for the UK to improve its provision for cyclists. But something strange is afoot. Despite widespread public support for increased cycling infrastructure, local authorities are removing bike lanes, thanks to the actions of a vocal minority. CyclingUK, the national cycling organisation behind many high-profile campaigns, is asking it’s members and all cyclists to ‘beat the bike-lash’ by speaking up for cycling in their local area.
Has COVID-19 changed your attitude to cycling?
Are you cycling more than you used to because of the coronavirus pandemic? Are you new to cycling having needed an alternative way to get around? We’d love to hear from you and welcome any cycling questions you might have. We have a supportive community of cyclists on our Facebook and Twitter channels – come and join us for a chat!