Cycling up 47% in Scotland one year on from the first Covid-19 restrictions

New data shows a 47% rise in people cycling in Scotland, from 23rd March to 22nd March 2021, compared to the same period 2019-20, according to Cycling Scotland.

Since Covid-19 restrictions first came into force on 23 March 2020, the nation’s cycling organisation has released regular updates on the number of people cycling in Scotland, using its nationwide network of automatic cycle counters to compile the data.

Increases of 68% in April, 77 per cent in May, 63% in June, 44% in July and 33% in August were recorded, compared to the same months in 2019.

September saw a rise of 32%, followed by October (22%, November (7% and December (4%). During bad weather in January this year, cycling numbers decreased 14% before rising 20% in February.

Cycling Scotland has also announced its latest monthly figures, using data from 47 automatic cycle counters nationwide.

The statistics reveal a 52% increase in the number of people cycling across the nation between 1 and 22 March 2021 versus the same three weeks in 2020 – before the first Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in Scotland.

Twenty counters saw a year-on-year increase of more than 100 per cent, with counters in Girvan (Victory Park Road), Callander (Glen Gardens) and Dunoon (Victoria Parade) showing hikes of 256, 179 and 113% respectively.

The information was collected as part of the National Monitoring Framework, managed by Cycling Scotland, to monitor cycling rates across the country.

Latest figures from the Bicycle Association show sales of bikes, bike parts, accessories and services increased by 45% across the UK in 2020, with the trend set to continue.    

Cycling Scotland Chief Executive Keith Irving said: “It has been a horrendous year, but one of the few bright spots has been more people getting back on their bikes.

“Cycling has a key role to play in people getting exercise and fresh air, managing the ongoing pressure on our transport system and, crucially, tackling the global climate emergency we face. We’re delighted at the massive increase in cycling and it’s vital we see it continue and expand. 

“To get even more people cycling, we need to invest more in infrastructure so people feel safe to cycle. We need more dedicated cycle lanes, separated from vehicles and pedestrians. We need to reduce traffic, especially on residential and shopping streets. And we need to increase access to bikes and storage to tackle the barriers too many people face so anyone, anywhere can enjoy all the benefits of cycling.

“Helping far more people to cycle is key in delivering a green recovery from Covid and supporting a just transition towards a net-zero Scotland. Every journey cycled will make a difference.”


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