Cycling in Scotland has increased by nearly 50% in the last year amid coronavirus restrictions, according to new figures.
Between March and August there were 43% more cycling journeys recorded compared with the same six-month period in 2019, according to Cycling Scotland.
Figures reviewed from automatic cycle counters also suggest there was a 33% rise in the number of people on bikes in August against the same month last year.
That increase follows rises of 68% in April, 77% in May, 63% in June and 44% in July.
Cycling Scotland chief executive Keith Irving called the latest figures “heartening”.
He 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.
“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.”
Mr Irving added: “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.”
Six locations had monthly increases of more than 100%, with one counter in Glasgow (Clyde Street) showing a 199% rise.
Other major increases were recorded in Kingseat Road, Dunfermline (132%), Ayr Road in Newton Mearns (128%), the Clyde Walkway in Cambuslang (123%), Mugdock Wood in Milngavie (114%) and Arbroath Road in Dundee (112%).
The Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme went live at about 100 specialist shops across the country at the beginning of August, with Essential Cycling Skills for families also piloted.
Transport Secretary 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.”
He added: “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.”
Suzanne Forup, Cycling UK’s head of development for Scotland, said: “Cycling UK is working with over 290 bike shops and independent mechanics across Scotland to provide cycle repairs to those who need them most.
“The coronavirus crisis has hit many people hard so this scheme is aimed at people who couldn’t otherwise pay for essential bike repairs right now.
“There’s been a huge public demand for the scheme since it launched, which shows a great appetite for people wanting to get on their bikes right across Scotland.”
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