In this guest blog, Natalie Cozzolino of Cycling Scotland unpacks some of the statistics around the massive increase in cycling in Scotland over the past year:
Scotland has seen a surge in the number of people cycling in the past 12 months.
At Cycling Scotland, we measure levels of cycling rates across the country, using a network of up to 60 automatic cycle counters in our National Monitoring Framework to help build a nationwide picture.
Statistics we released on 6 April 2021 show a 47% increase in cycling journeys recorded between 23 March 2020 and 22 March 2021 - one year since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in Scotland.
In 2020, increases of 68% in April, 77% in May, 63% in June, 44% in July and 33% in August were recorded, compared to the same months in 2019.
September 2020 saw a rise of 32%, followed by October (22%), November (7%) and December (4%). During bad weather in January this year, cycling rates decreased 14% before rising 20% in February 2021.
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.
Rabaha Arshad is studying for a Doctorate in Children’s Literature at the University of Glasgow. She was inspired to learn how to cycle during lockdown, after watching a neighbour park their bike outside her window every day. Encouraged by stories of other adult beginners, Rabaha began one-to-one lessons at community cycling charity Bike for Good.
As Rabaha’s skills developed, so did her confidence. “I suddenly started becoming aware of cyclists all around me, it was like I’d joined a secret community. While walking back from a lesson through Botanic Gardens I approached three women with bikes sitting on a bench and introduced myself. I would never have had the courage to do that before I started cycling!”
Rabaha has been enjoying discovering new cycle paths and connecting different parts of Glasgow on her bike, and is planning longer cycle trips to Loch Lomond and Edinburgh in the future.
Our Cycling Scotland Chief Executive, Keith Irving, says: “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.”
Visit cycling.scot to learn more.
Cycling Scotland is one of the Active Travel Delivery Partners spearheading the Active Travel conference on 2 June.