As lockdown began and much of the UK workforce either began to work from home or was furloughed, we experienced a mass-exodus from our cities, and with it a once in a lifetime reduction in traffic on our roads. Subsequently, we have experienced a much welcome silver lining to life during the pandemic: a cycling revolution. Participation increased by as much as 200%, with many people previously too nervous to share roads with cars now summoning the courage, as well as commuters looking for safer alternatives to public transport.
Although raising some eyebrows at the time, the government’s decision to allocate bicycle shops as essential businesses, was crucial in allowing people to either purchase new bikes or dust off the old racer from the back of their sheds. In some places this led to blockbuster queues outside of shops, weeks long waits for services and a backlog of orders that many retailers were unable to fulfil.
The government have now revealed plans to boost cycling numbers further, as a means to combating both the health and environmental crises facing the UK today. Although some campaigners have said that these steps don’t go far enough, they are a significant step forward compared to previous efforts. The recent release of £50 bicycle maintenance vouchers saw the scheme’s website crash within minutes of going live – which although frustrating for those trying to snag a voucher, is a really encouraging sign and demonstrates the enthusiasm of the British public.
The benefits of cycling are myriad, and so much of it tallies up nicely with the work that The Planet Mark does, and as such, we will be putting out a short series of blogs that drill down into these topics further. We’ll look at the environmental benefits, the social and health benefits, and also take a look at some top tips for keeping cycling as we return to our new normal. Stay tuned!