While cycling levels are up by 70 per cent compared to the period before the coronavirus lockdown, this represents a slight decline in recent weeks. The change comes alongside news that motor traffic has doubled compared to the lockdown low back in April.
UK motor traffic fell to its lowest level for 65 years at the start of lockdown, with travel on the nation’s roads plummeting to levels not seen since 1955.
Traffic fell to between 35 and 40 per cent of the pre-coronavirus volume, but with the lockdown being eased, it has since risen to around 75 per cent.
The AA’s head of roads policy, Jack Cousens, told the BBC that motor traffic could return to pre-lockdown levels "by the end of July" – and with the Government still discouraging the use of public transport, there is obvious potential to exceed even that.
However, Cousens said that with no real night-time economy at the moment, there was still "very little traffic" after 7pm, while weekends remain quieter because of the cancellation of mass events.
The Government is aware of a looming congestion crisis and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken of a “new Golden Age of cycling” after informing UK mayors that far more commuters would need to cycle as the nation emerged from lockdown.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last month announced a £250m emergency active travel fund for the creation of pop-up bike lanes and other measures to improve cycling and walking.
Speaking at the start of this month, Shapps said that the level of weekday cycling had doubled in Great Britain since the introduction of lockdown in late March, with even stronger growth at weekends.
However, on Thursday he tweeted that cycling levels are now around 70 per cent higher than in early March, which would appear to indicate that there has been a decline in recent weeks.
Brilliant to see cycling levels increase by around 70% compared to early March 🚴🚴♂️🚴♀️. And really keen to ensure healthy active transport sustained, so am providing councils with funds to install urgent infrastructure to keep cyclists safe – with more of this to come soon! 🚲
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) June 18, 2020
While the lockdown period has seen a boom in bike sales, a recent report predicted that the industry would ultimately see a 10 per cent contraction in 2020. Mintel went on to say that the industry would then recover over the next three years as pent-up demand is released.