Six-month stats see cycling up 43% in Scotland

23 September 2020    

The first six-month snapshot released since the month Covid-19 restrictions were introduced shows the significant increase in people cycling across Scotland this year.

Statistics released today (Wednesday 23 September) by Cycling Scotland reveal that between March and August 2020, 43 per cent more cycling journeys were recorded compared to the same period in 2019.

Since March, the nation’s cycling organisation has released monthly updates on the number of people cycling in Scotland, using its nationwide network of automatic cycle counters to compile the data.

A rise of 0.6 per cent in people cycling in March – covering the period before lockdown was introduced in Scotland on March 23 – was followed by increases of 68 per cent in April, 77 per cent in May, 63 per cent in June and 44 per cent in July, compared to the same months in 2019.

And today (Wednesday 23 September), Cycling Scotland announced its latest monthly figures – based on data from 46* automatic cycle counters – showing a 33 per cent increase in the number of people cycling across the nation in August 2020 versus August 2019.

Six locations – including Dundee’s Arbroath Road and Dunfermline’s Kingseat Road – saw increases of more than 100 per cent, with one counter in Glasgow (Clyde Street) showing a 199-per-cent rise compared to 2020.

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

Cycling Scotland Chief Executive Keith Irving said: “In the past six months, we’ve all seen our lives radically change. One of the few positive changes is that more people have returned to cycling or started to cycle.

“We expected that the progressive lifting of lockdown restrictions in most areas would affect cycling numbers and for the second month running we are seeing these increases start to slow slightly. It’s heartening that cycling is still a third higher this August compared to last.

“As we move into winter, the public health evidence clearly suggests we should try to be active and outside as much as possible. Cycling – and walking and wheeling – are great ways to achieve this.

“Cycling also has a key role to play in tackling the climate emergency and the pressures on our transport systems that face us as a nation. Today’s data demonstrates we need to redouble efforts to limit polluting traffic growth and enable more people to cycle, through infrastructure investment, creating green jobs in our economic recovery.

“To sustain Scotland’s renewed interest in cycling long-term, we need separate cycle lanes to keep people safe from traffic, as well as support for people to access bikes, training and storage.”

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “We should all be pleased to see a higher rate of cycling over the last six months – and we know the reasons why this has occurred. Having seen the success of initiatives like Spaces for People and the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme, the task now is to lock-in the positive changes in travel behaviour we’ve seen recently.

“This is why we have committed to invest over £500 million in active travel over the next five years. By improving our match-funding offer for permanent infrastructure at the same time, it will help our local authorities make some of the temporary changes permanent where appropriate.

“Coupled with continued investment in high impact behavioural change initiatives, delivered through Cycling Scotland and other active travel partners, I believe we’re well placed to deliver an Active Nation – where more people can walk, wheel and cycle for everyday journeys.”

Cycle counter data