The Summer that Cyclists Reclaimed the Roads
A revolutionary year for those on 2 wheels...
Humans adapt. We always have done. The reason we are on this earth today is because of our innate ability to adapt to changing circumstances over time, and in 2020 we have had to adapt in a manner and at a rate that none of us could have imagined. It already seems like the 23rd of March was a lifetime ago - the date that the country effectively shut up shop and we all entered lockdown. Still today, the central business districts across the country are hauntingly quiet as the previously unavoidable hustle and bustle has remained in an extended hibernation.
The Coronavirus brought our industry to its knees and caused car sales to grind to an almost literal halt as production and sales were both forced into temporary closure in most countries and in the UK, the majority of motorists parked up their cars and went inside. The 10 weeks following the announcement of lockdown showed a massive 45% drop in fuel sold in fuel stations across the country. This indicates how few journeys were being made by Britains motorists as all non-essential travel was essentially outlawed.
While offices closed for business and the workplace shifted to within the worker’s households, an almost perfect set of circumstances arose for those with two-wheels. Firstly, throughout lockdown, we were all encouraged to exercise for one hour a day. Team sports were obviously cancelled so cycling, which is considerably less strenuous than running and almost as accessible, became the countries new favourite pass time.
A secondary contributing factor was that the roads were now empty. Cycling around city centres or traffic-filled suburbia can be extremely daunting for novices, but with so few vehicles on the road, the tarmac was more inviting for cyclists than ever before.
A third reason why cycling prevailed is that we all moved to a localised living style. As lockdown measures eased, public parks and nearby beauty spots became the only destination for some people who needed to get out of the house and enjoy the sun, which brings us on to a final contributing factor… the weather.
It’s been an unusually dry summer across the UK, which has been a blessing and a curse in our fight against the Coronavirus, but for cyclists, it has been a godsend. Britons took full advantage of being able to get their bike out of the shed, dust it down and enjoy a British summer from home. Government data suggests that on some of the warmer days of summer, the number of cyclists on the roads was up by 300% when compared to previous years.
With Demand Comes a Response
With this huge surge in cyclists across the country, new demands for improvements to the cycling infrastructure followed almost immediately. You will have probably seen new ‘pop up’ cycle lanes around large towns and cities, encouraging a safe space for cyclists to make journeys. Naturally, these lanes have eaten into spaces previously occupied by cars in the pre-lockdown world. Those cars and that traffic are now starting to return, so the real question will be whether local councils are able to strike the right chord with installing permanent cycling infrastructure without causing new and intense traffic hotspots.
This works both ways too, while we are massive advocates for cars here at Regit, we also appreciate the sustainability, freedom and affordability that cycling provides. Of course, there is archaic rhetoric that cyclists and motorists are sworn enemies, but what’s become blatantly obvious during lockdown is that cyclists and motorists are often the same people. These aren’t mutually exclusive gangs, in fact, there is massive overlap and it’s important that the commonalities are addressed as, for the meantime at least, cyclists and motorists must share the same spaces. There is a happy compromise to be made as we move into this remote-working, flexible living, sustainable world where cyclists and motorists can co-exist in harmony.
We want to hear from our readers. Please leave a comment below if you’re a motorist who has picked up cycling again this summer during the lockdown. Will you continue cycling into the winter months? Has your perspective on cyclists and cycling infrastructure changed? Let us know!