As cycling doubles, Bike Week celebrates health and wellbeing

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This remains true during this difficult period with the ongoing threat of coronavirus Covid-19
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Cyclist on bike lane in Leeds
Cyclist on bike lane in Leeds
Rob Kingston's picture

As cycling doubles, Bike Week celebrates health and wellbeing

Cycling UK’s annual bike celebration runs from 6 to 14 June, with online events themed around the health benefits of cycling
  • Cycling has doubled in England and Scotland during the Covid-19 crisis
  • Cycling UK has helped almost 3,000 health and social care workers onto their bikes with free membership
  • World Health Organization and UK government advise cycling and walking whenever possible for short journeys
  • Two-thirds of car journeys in London could be replaced by a 20-minute bike ride

As it marks World Bicycle Day today (3 June), Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, is preparing for the launch of the UK’s Bike Week to celebrate the increasingly important role of cycling in the health of the nation.

Amid the restrictions placed on people’s lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, cycling has experienced a boom. Data from both England and Scotland have shown a doubling in the numbers of people getting on their bikes since the lockdown started, while in Wales, two-thirds of those who have cycled for leisure have done so more than usual. Governments and public health bodies are promoting cycling as a safe and healthy alternative to public transport and private vehicle use.

To recognise the particular importance of cycling as a safe mode of transport for key workers, Cycling UK has been offering a three-month free membership to health and social care workers. By the end of the offer on 31 May, 2,857 of these key workers across the country had signed up.

Bike Week is a chance to share the fun and freedom that cycling offers, but this year the real focus is on the health benefits – not only for the individual but for society as a whole

Pete Fitzboydon, interim chief executive, Cycling UK

Pete Fitzboydon, interim chief executive of Cycling UK, said: “The reduction in vehicle traffic and increase in cycling during lockdown has allowed a glimpse of a different, more active future, and it would be a great shame to turn our backs on this and return to business as usual. Bike Week is a chance to share the fun and freedom that cycling offers, but this year the real focus is on the health benefits – not only for the individual but for society as a whole. We are encouraging everybody to get out on their bikes at least once during the week, spreading the message that even a short ride can make a big difference.”

In London, two-thirds of car journeys are less than 3.1 miles (5 kilometres): a distance that can easily be covered on a bike in 20 minutes. Across the UK as a whole, the average journey to school could also be made with a 20-minute bike ride. And while an average traffic lane can carry 2,000 cars per hour, it could carry 14,000 bicycles instead. At a time when people are beginning to return to workplaces and schools, choosing cycling will have an enormous impact on congestion and the associated economic and societal costs.

Supporting the launch of Bike Week, the Department for Transport's Cycling Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “Covid-19 has made us rethink how we work, shop, and travel – and we have seen so many people over the past couple of months discovering or re-discovering a love of cycling as they look for new ways to get around.   

“Bike Week is a great opportunity for people to give cycling a go, and be inspired to choose an environmentally friendly form of travel with major health benefits – improving the quality of air that we breathe and helping people to get fit and stay healthy.

“I hope that after the crisis, cycling becomes the natural choice for many more on short journeys so that we can keep these benefits for the longer term.”

Covid-19 has made us rethink how we work, shop, and travel – and we have seen so many people over the past couple of months discovering or re-discovering a love of cycling

Chris Heaton-Harris, Cycling Minister

In Wales, Lee Waters, Deputy Transport Minister, said: “More people cycling can deliver improvements in air quality, decarbonisation and public health, and Bike Week is a time to recognise these benefits.

“The increase is cycling is something I want to see maintained, which is why we’re encouraging local authorities to reallocate road space and help people walk, cycle and travel in sustainable ways. We also pledged more than £40m for walking and cycling schemes last year.”

In Northern Ireland, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “During Bike Week 2020 I would encourage people of all ages to take this opportunity to get involved in cycling and enjoy the huge physical and mental health benefits cycling brings.  Cycling has seen an upsurge during the Covid crisis and Bike Week is an opportunity to recognise this and encourage even more people to get on their bike.  The current situation has also created an opportunity for us all to take a closer look at how we travel and consider how we can do things better moving forward. 

“I am committed to working towards reimagining and reshaping our spaces to accommodate cycling, walking and active travel as part of an ambitious Executive recovery plan. We have a real opportunity to build a better future that delivers more for our citizens, socially and economically, delivering cleaner, greener and healthier communities. This is our chance for change.

“The Department is developing urgent pilot proposals for extended footpaths, pop up cycle lanes and pedestrian priority streets that can be delivered in partnership with councils and communities.”


Nurse Mónica Reus Boccherini on her bike
Nurse Mónica Reus Boccherini on her bike

I’d encourage everyone to use the opportunity of Bike Week to pick up your dusty bike and give cycling a go!

Mónica Reus Boccherini, A&E nurse

Mónica Reus Boccherini, A&E nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, said: “I took up cycling towards the beginning of lockdown, as after a long shift in A&E I didn’t want to run the risk of passing on the virus to my fellow passengers on public transport.

“I’ve been riding regularly ever since then and love it. I’d encourage everyone to use the opportunity of Bike Week to pick up your dusty bike and give cycling a go!”

The restrictions on group events mean that this year’s Bike Week is taking place digitally, with a programme of webinars, online workshops, Q&As (including a discussion with Dragon’s Den star Piers Linney) and fun events. The overarching theme is Health and Wellbeing, with each day taking a different focus under the #7daysofcycling hashtag on social media. People are encouraged to share photos and videos of their cycling activities for a chance to win prizes.

For details of the full programme, visit https://www.cyclinguk.org/bikeweek.

Contact information

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Rob Kingston on 07880 424 912 or email publicity@cyclinguk.orgOut of hours, call 07786 320 713. 

Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. Data from Sport England, based on surveys of 2,000 people in England, show that the number of people cycling each week rose from 8% during the first week of April to 16% by 18 May. Full data are available at https://indd.adobe.com/view/793b48d5-bbcd-4de3-a50f-11d241a506b3.
    Figures from Transport Scotland showed that cycle journeys in the week of 20-26 April were up by 120% on typical figures. See https://www.cyclinguk.org/news/cycling-scotland-has-more-doubled.
  3. In Wales, 67% of those who have cycled for leisure have done more than usual, according to data from Sport Wales published on 26 May: see https://www.sport.wales/media-centre/latest-news/2020-05-26-survey-reveals-exercise-habits-during-lockdown/.
  4. The World Health Organization issued the following advice in April: “Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking: this provides physical distancing while helping to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities.”
  5. The latest advice from the UK government, published on 29 May, is that “to reduce demand on the public transport network, you should walk or cycle wherever possible”. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home).
  6. Images of Mónica Reus Boccherini and Bike Week logos are available on request.
  7. Follow us on www.facebook.com/CyclingUK, Instagram www.instagram.com/wearecyclinguk and www.twitter.com/WeAreCyclingUK using the hashtag #BikeWeekUK and #7daysofcycling.
  8. Bike Week 2020 is delivered by Cycling UK and supported in Scotland by Cycling Scotland.

 

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