Bike journeys in Scotland were up 47% between March 2020 and March 2021, according to new figures released by Cycling Scotland. However, investment in more cycling infrastructure will be needed to maintain such impressive figures.
Cycling journeys grew strongly during 11 of the 12 months studied, with many local counters recording year-on-ear increases of over 100%. At the same time, the latest figures from the Bicycle Association show that sales of bikes, parts, accessories and services increased by 45% across the UK in 2020.
This growth evidently coincides with the introduction of the first covid-19 restrictions. Leaving their cars at home, Scots -- like many fellow Europeans -- turned (back) to bikes. Plus, as well as people's enthusiasm for getting in the saddle, the adaptation of many roads to facilitate cycling since the onset of the pandemic has helped drive the trend.
In Scotland, as elsewhere in Europe, cycling played a key role in keeping fit and getting fresh air during the pandemic, while also offering a means of avoiding public transport and respecting social distancing.
Cycle paths may have been set up in recent months, but only permanent infrastructure -- specifically for cyclists and separate from other road users (cars and pedestrians) -- will really allow people to feel safer when cycling. In other words, authorities will need to invest wisely to ensure the trend lasts well beyond the covid-19 pandemic.