Cycling trends in Scotland during the early phase of the Covid pandemic

Whyte, B., Mcarthur, D. , Garnham, L. and Livingston, M. (2022) Cycling trends in Scotland during the early phase of the Covid pandemic. Active Travel Studies, 2(1), pp. 1-19. (doi: 10.16997/ats.1120)

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Abstract

In many countries increasing levels of active travel, including cycling, has become a policy aim with the co-benefits of improving health, supporting a shift away from private car use to more sustainable transport systems, reducing emissions and improving liveability and places. Our study, focussed on the early phase of the pandemic in Scotland, provides a unique context in which to examine the impact of COVID-19 work and travel restrictions on cycling levels across Scotland. Following an initial sharp reduction in cycling in the first few days of lockdown there was a large increase in cycling in the initial lockdown phase on all routes, but particularly on leisure routes. Better weather and COVID-related restrictions were independently associated with increases in cycling. Cycling levels rose during lockdown when there was less motorised traffic on the roads and people had more opportunities to travel and exercise locally. As COVID restrictions were relaxed, accompanied by more cars on the roads, levels of cycling reduced. Cycling on commuting routes was much less affected by these relaxations and by weather effects. Active travel investment in Scotland is increasing and this study shows that given the right conditions more people will choose to cycle. The lessons from the pandemic period can help in making the transition to a low-carbon, active and sustainable transport system. The availability of open data cycle counts was central to this study but further development of monitoring data is needed to measure the impact of increased investment in cycling.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Livingston, Dr Mark and Garnham, Dr Lisa and Whyte, Mr Bruce and Mcarthur, Dr David
Authors: Whyte, B., Mcarthur, D., Garnham, L., and Livingston, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Active Travel Studies
Publisher:University of Westminster Press
ISSN:2732-4184
ISSN (Online):2732-4184
Published Online:24 June 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Author(s)
First Published:First published in Active Travel Studies 2(1): 1-19
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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