Monitoring/Policy

Latest data shows sustained increase in cycling despite further easing of lockdown in Scotland

20th August 2020    

Cycling Scotland’s nationwide network of cycle counters shows 44% rise in people cycling in July compared to the same period last year.

The first figures to be released since Scotland entered phase three of lockdown show a continued increase in cycling across the nation.

According to statistics released today (Thursday 20 August) by Cycling Scotland, July saw a 44 per cent increase in cycling compared to the same month last year, with Scotland entering phase three of its lockdown route map on Friday 10 July.

Data from 46 of Cycling Scotland’s nationwide automatic cycle counters was reviewed, comparing cycling rates in July 2020 with July 2019.

And in 10 locations the increase topped 100 per cent, headed by counters in Irvine (182 per cent) and Lenzie (140 per cent).

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 44 per cent increase follows rises of 68 per cent in April, 77 per cent in May and 63 per cent in June compared to the same months last year.

In addition, Cycling Scotland more than doubled the number of automatic cycle counters it used to collect data this month – up from 22 in June – providing an even more comprehensive snapshot of the number of people getting on their bikes.

Cycling Scotland Monitoring and Development Officer, Natalie Cozzolino, said: “We were concerned that the progressive lifting of many lockdown restrictions would lead to a big drop in the number of people cycling so it’s encouraging to see that although there’s been a decrease in July, the nation’s renewed interest in cycling is still continuing.

“By the end of the year, we will have a better understanding of the medium-term impact of COVID-19 on cycling in Scotland. Continued action is needed more than ever to support an increase in cycling.”

She added: “We want to encourage more people across Scotland to discover the lasting benefits of riding their bikes and to help tackle the climate emergency we face.

“Better cycling infrastructure (especially bike lanes separated from traffic), giving more people access to bikes and training and enabling people to store their bike safely are four critical elements if this increase in people cycling is to continue.”

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I’m pleased to see a higher rate of cycling in July compared to the same time last year. Through our COVID-19 response we’re working hard to keep this momentum in cycling going across the country. The Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme is a key part of this approach in addition to our green recovery efforts.

“This scheme is encouraging people to safely bring older and unused bikes back onto our roads and onto the new temporary cycling infrastructure that local authorities are delivering through the £30 million Spaces for People initiative.

“At the same time, we’re also supporting access for people who don’t own a bike – and this week Glasgow City Council confirmed their public hire scheme will continue to offer free travel until spring 2021 thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

“Our package of support offers a real opportunity to keep people cycling across the winter months – helping to build an Active Nation and to help manage demand on our public transport network due to the pressures created by the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Cycling Scotland and other organisations have worked hard throughout lockdown to support people to start cycling.

The nation’s cycling organisation has been piloting a new Essential Cycling Skills course to help families build the skills and confidence to cycle safely.

The 2.5-hour sessions – which are free until the end of August – are delivered by experienced instructors who can tailor the course contents to the specific needs of the family.

Since 8 June, 80 sessions have taken place across Dumfries and Galloway, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Fife and the Borders with 234 people taking part.

These courses are for families who want to cycle on traffic-free routes and quieter roads and provides the skills to negotiate road journeys safely.

Support worker, Paula Wyllie (35) and her children Maya (13), Ava (11) and Ben (9), from Annan in Dumfries and Galloway attended a session in July.

Paula said: “We thoroughly enjoyed Cycling Scotland’s Essential Cycling Skills course. Our instructor, Josh, was friendly and made the session fun. He was informative, explained things clearly and answered all our questions. We now feel more confident when out cycling as a family.”

Families who would like to book a session of cycle training should register their interest at cycling.scot/family