Government data detailing the change in transport use over the lockdown period has shown cycling levels rose by up to 300% on some days.
The department for Transport data was shown as part of a daily briefing on the Coronavirus and how it continues to shape public life. It was delivered on the same day that the Transport Secretary warned that face masks would become a mandatory feature of public transport use, starting from June 15th. With public transport use discouraged where possible and some provisions to make cycling safer appearing nationwide, it is expected cycling’s modal share will remain higher for the foreseeable future.
“The use of motor vehicles fell substantially initially and has since risen steadily, though not back to the levels seen in mid-March. Again, this is what we would expect as we have introduced some easements to the lockdown and encouraged people to return to work,” started Schapps.
“One form of transport which has seen a significant increase is cycling – it is great to see people switching to a clean, green mode of transport with significant public health benefits.”
Schapps proceeded to talk up cycling’s role in a new normal for UK transport, flagging the Government’s incoming Fix Your Bike Voucher, worth £50, though he stopped short of giving further detail other than to say availability begins later in June.
Schapps continued: “Then there’s the Cycle To Work scheme which enables employees to buy a tax free bike – an effective saving of 25 – 39%. That scheme has been extended to cover e-Bikes as well, meaning that cyclists can cover longer distances by getting assistance on those uphill stretches.
“And this is a great time to start using them. As we redesign our street landscape to cope with millions more cyclists and pedestrians in the months ahead. The evidence is that commuters are already responding. Despite fewer people travelling overall during this crisis, we’ve seen around a 100% increase in weekday cycling. At weekends, that increase has been up to around 200%, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
“We want to use this recovery to permanently change the way we travel. With huge levels of investment, we’re bringing forward green transport improvements that otherwise would have taken years, if not decades, to achieve.”
The investment Schapps refers to is the £2 billion to be spent over the five year Government term, though some of this cash will be diverted to walking projects too.
The Department for Transport data measured cycling levels for the tightest lockdown period, spanning March 16th to June 1st and was indexed against the equivalent day of prior years’ data. The UK experienced its driest May on record, adding appeal for many cyclists and helping many bike shops, workshops and manufacturers clock up record sales.