During the height of the pandemic, the number of cycling trips in England doubled compared to before, according to statistics from the Department for Transport.
The biggest number of cycling trips took place in May, but April and June were also popular months for two-wheeled transport. Since then, bicycle usage has dropped again, but it is still significantly higher than it was before the pandemic.
A new era for cycling
Following this uptake in popularity, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a £2 billion investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, with the aim of relieving pressure on public transport:
“We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.”
The government plans to work together with local authorities to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get around.
Among the more ambitious plans are those from Greater Manchester, which wants to create 150 miles of protected cycle track, and Transport for London, which hopes to build a “bike tube” network above Underground lines.
As part of a plan to create a greener city, Birmingham is currently rolling out a trial with e-scooters. The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said that “The West Midlands is proud to be leading the way on future transport development.”
Swedish company Koi has been appointed to handle the rollout in the West Midlands, starting with Birmingham and Coventry. Sandwell (West Bromwich), Solihull, and other areas in the region will follow soon after.
The introduction of e-scooters is not without controversy. A worrying number of injuries and even some deaths, have provoked a growing backlash in a number of European cities.
A trial with electric scooters in Coventry has already been suspended due to concerns about unsafe driving behaviour. Users were reported to mount pavements, ride the wrong way in one-way streets, and discard the scooters outside their designated zones.
Richard Corbett, Voi’s general manager for Britain and Ireland told The Times that Britain’s “antisocial behaviour” is to blame.
“We haven’t seen this level of antisocial behaviour in any other market. We have had great experience of it but the volume of it in the UK was quite surprising.”
The company will now start to fit its vehicles with number plates in the hope that this will make it easier for police to track down misbehaving riders.