Covid Scotland: 18,000 new lockdown cyclists in Edinburgh and Glasgow thanks to bike scheme

Thousands of people across Scotland’s two largest cities took up cycling during lockdown as a result of a Scottish Government funded bike-sharing initiative, a new report has revealed.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 1:05 pm

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The bike hire scheme attracted more than 18,000 new users which resulted in a 38 per cent increase in cycling trips recorded across the cities between June and September last year.

Collaborative Mobility UK's report also found that the bike-sharing initiatives had a positive impact on those who took part.

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Almost three-quarters experienced an improvement in their physical wellbeing, while 47 per cent said their mental health improved. One in 10 users said they enjoyed the scheme so much they went on to buy their own bicycle.

Scotland director for CoMoUK Lorna Finlayson said the findings of this report clearly showed the success of the scheme.

She said: “This report shows that when bike-sharing is made available and attractive, people want to take part.

“Thousands signed up as a result of these schemes, and the difference it made to their lives and the environment was clear.”

Promotions in Glasgow and Edinburgh which allowed users 30 minutes of use for free, sparked a ‘massive’ upturn in interest in the scheme.

Following the success of the project, CoMoUK has now recommended that bike-sharing is recognised as “an essential part of our public transport system” and urged future investment in promotions to sign more people up.

It also suggested expanding bike-sharing initiatives into areas of multiple deprivation to increase connectivity and reduce inequalities.

The report wrote: “Bike share supports numerous key public policies, including helping to cut transport emissions, improving public health and providing lower cost options for getting around.

“It removes some of the barriers to cycling including the cost of buying and maintaining a bike, and having somewhere to store one.

“It is a carbon free way to get around, mainly used for short trips, and provides an accessible means for physical activity for many.

“As a result, bike share can play a crucial role in our green recovery from Covid-19.”

The project was launched in summer 2020 in partnership with Transport Scotland, Edinburgh City Council, Glasgow City Council, Paths for All, Transport for Edinburgh, and bike-share operators, Nextbike and Serco.

Paths for All’s SCSP manager Stuart Douglas said: “We believe that active travel has an important part to play in a green recovery from Covid-19, and we’ll continue to work with our partners and Transport Scotland to make Scotland an active nation.”

Transport and environment convener at Edinburgh City Council Councillor Lesley Macinnes said the scheme allowed people who don't own a bike to feel the health, social and environmental benefits of cycling.

She said: “It’s clear that these initiatives to promote the scheme opened it up to a whole new audience. During lockdown we saw a real surge in people taking up cycling for the first time, and it’s fantastic that those who don’t own their own bike could also feel the health, social and environmental benefits of cycling during this time.“As we look toward the end of the pandemic, we want to continue encouraging people to try out and enjoy cycling, whether that’s through hiring or buying a bike, so we remain committed to improving and investing in cycling infrastructure to make this as easy and attractive as possible.”

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