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Outer London leads cycling boom in capital during pandemic, says TfL

Trips up almost a quarter in outlying boroughs as people switch to two wheels for essential local journeys and exercise

The number of cycling trips in Outer London has risen by almost a quarter during the coronavirus pandemic as people switched to two wheels for essential local journeys and exercise, with Transport for London (TfL) saying that there is evidence that the type of journey being undertaken by bike is changing, including for accessing local high streets.

Journeys by bike in Outer London were up by 22 per cent and in Inner London by 7 per cent in autumn last year compared to the previous count in spring 2019, says TfL, which said that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that last year’s annual exercise could not be carried out at the usual time.

The counts were carried out at various points in London and revealed huge increases in cycling in some places – up by 236 per cent on Wembley High Road, for example, by 91 per cent on Leyton High Road, and 61 per cent on Heath Road in Twickenham.

There is still strong year-on-year growth in cycling at weekends, too – up 85 per cent on the weekend of 16-17 January, according to data from TfL.

Will Norman, London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner, said: “This new data highlights again how, against a backdrop of significantly fewer journeys being made overall, cycling has been a vital means of transport for Londoners during the pandemic, with a particularly significant increase in outer London as people turn to active travel to get around their local area and for exercise.

“It’s therefore crucial that we ensure roads are safe for cyclists, and we continue to work with the boroughs to deliver new or upgraded protected cycle routes across the capital, to enable people to cycle safely and easily.”

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Alex Williams, Director of City Planning at TfL, commented: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on how people travel around the capital.

“This new data is further evidence of the vital role played by cycling during the pandemic and shows how important it is to make sure that there is space for Londoners to cycle safely, which is exactly why we’ve worked closely with the boroughs to deliver new protected cycle routes across the capital.”

TfL highlighted that the Santander Cycles hire scheme saw 24-hour membership registrations rise by 167 per cent during 2020 – the biggest annual increase seen since the scheme was introduced a decade ago – and registrations for new annual memberships were up by a quarter during the year.

In December, TfL said that while there has been a massive drop in all trips undertaken in the capital, with people avoiding public transport and many working at home, as well as the impact of lockdown restrictions, there has been a boost to active travel with cycling and walking accounting for more than 1 in 3 trips in the city from July to September last year.

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Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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