As advice from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson comes into effect this week giving employers the green light to encourage their employees back into the office, the spotlight once again hovers over public transport, road infrastructure and safe travel.
According to research from National Rail and Cycling UK, a fifth of Britons are considering commuting to work by bicycle as the UK prepares for an influx of new cyclists taking to the roads.
The research also identified a further 22% of people were concerned their bike would be damaged or stolen. In fact, in June alone reported bike thefts to national cycle database Bike Register were up by 48% on 2019 figures, with cycle theft spiking as lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Sheffield-based road repair SME, Roadmender Asphalt, has commissioned what it deems nationally representative research unveiling underlying scepticism of public transport. The research revealed 69% of Brits would rather cycle or drive to work in favour of taking public transport due to the Covid-19 risk, representing some 24,261,000 people. The research also found 65% would not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport at all anymore.
In a potential win for the cycle industry, 32% of respondents agreed driving is the most stressful part of their day, caused mostly by poor road quality. Encouraging motorists out of their cars and onto bikes would remedy these feelings while pressing the case for better infrastructure.
With 19% of those surveyed willing to pay an extra 10% on top of their council tax bill for road improvements, it seems improving road surface quality and pothole repairs, not to mention improved infrastructure for active travel modes, is a key factor in getting people back into the office safely.
At the end of last month, England and Northern Ireland received an initial set of cycling infrastructure design standards, providing local authorities and planners with a reference point from which to build safe lanes.
Off the back of this research, and being cautiously optimistic about the political will from the Government to boost cycling, now seems a good time to consider whether the Covid-19 pandemic could shift the UK towards sustainable transport in the long term, versus the possibility of an inevitable slide back into pre-pandemic habits if opportunities aren’t capitalised upon.