Cycling is on the up and up in Scotland, according to a new report from Sustrans Scotland, which says that last year saw a record 26 million trips on National Cycle Network routes north of the border.
Sustrans and other active travel groups have recently been pushing the health benefits of getting out of your car. Sustrans Scotland reckons the 34.3 million cycling trips and 28.3 million trips on foot made on the network were worth an estimated £71.5 million in health benefits.
The UK Chief Medical Officer recommends 150 minutes of activity a week for general health. According to Sustrans, 60.5% of users on the National Cycle Network in 2012 completed 30 minutes or more of physical activity on five or more days in the previous week.
Cycling and walking routes pay back between 2 and 9.5 times more than they cost, says Sustrans. The organisation claims that’s a much higher return on investment than for other forms of transport.
Some parts of the network have seen substantial increases in use, according to the Edinburgh Evening News. Automatic counters showed that user numbers for a cycle path in Bathgate rose from 49,067 in 2004 to 162,973 by 2012. At Musselburgh’s Goose Green numbers rose from 35,358 in 2011 to 85,167 last year. And a traffic-free section of path in West Granton hit a record peak of more than 900 cyclists a day on weekdays last summer – 50 per cent up on the same period in 2011.
Ian Maxwell, from cycle campaign group Spokes, said: “It’s all part of this cycling revolution in Scotland. We are seeing a really spectacular change and this is just one of the ways showing there are far more cyclists on the streets and there are also far more cyclists using off-road paths. That’s really to be welcomed.”
City transport vice-convener Councillor Jim Orr said the soaring numbers confirmed Edinburgh’s reputation as the active travel Capital of Scotland.
“We’re continuing to invest heavily in cycling in Edinburgh at six per cent of the transport budget. We’re trying to remind people cycling is a fun, healthy, convenient and economical way to get around town.”
Lovers of facts and figures can download the full report from Sustrans.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.