As more people cycle in Wales, Bike Week celebrates health and wellbeing
- Two-thirds of those who cycle say they are riding more since the lockdown
- Cycling UK has helped almost 3,000 health and social care workers onto their bikes with free membership
- World Health Organization and UK governments advise cycling and walking whenever possible for short journeys
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 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.
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.”
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, Lee Waters, Welsh 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.”
More people cycling can deliver improvements in air quality, decarbonisation and public health, and Bike Week is a time to recognise these benefits.
Lee Waters, Welsh Deputy Transport Minister
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.
Notes to editors
- 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
- 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.
- 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/
- 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.”
- The latest advice from the Welsh government, published on 29 May, is that “to reduce demand on the public transport network, you should walk or cycle wherever possible”. (https://gov.wales/travelling-safely-during-coronavirus-pandemic-guidance-public-html#section-42708).
- Images of Mónica Reus Boccherini and Bike Week logos are available on request.
- Follow us on www.facebook.com/CyclingUK, Instagram www.instagram.com/wearecyclinguk and www.twitter.com/WeAreCyclingUK using the hashtag #BikeWeekUK and #7daysofcycling.
- Bike Week 2020 is delivered by Cycling UK and supported in Scotland by Cycling Scotland.
Press 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713.