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Strava Metro made free to cities worldwide, including UK, to help encourage sustainable travel post-pandemic

New data reveal 162 per cent year-on-year rise in cyclists in UK during May, with Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow leading the way

Strava Metro is to be made free to cities worldwide to provide insights to transport planners that will help them make streets safer for people who commute by bike. The news comes as Strava reveals the number of people cycling – at least those who use the social network for athletes – was 162 per cent higher in the UK in May 2020 compared to the same month last year.

That period coincided, of course, with the latter stages of the initial lockdown which was put in place across the country in late March, and which led to a boom in cycling both for exercise and for people who needed to commute to their workplaces, including key workers such as NHS staff, switching from public transport to bikes for their journeys.

Within UK cities, the biggest rise was seen in Liverpool, followed by Manchester and Glasgow, with the full top 10 as follows:

1. Liverpool – 222.04 per cent

2. Manchester – 169.73 per cent

3. Glasgow – 146.24 per cent

4. Birmingham – 134.59 per cent

5. London – 119.38 per cent

6. Newcastle – 115.38 per cent

7. Belfast – 107.11 per cent

8. Cardiff – 95.84 per cent

9. Bristol – 85.84 per cent

10. Sheffield – 78.46 per cent

Clearly, some of those cities will be seeing growth being built from a small base, but it is also worth noting that many of them have installed active travel champions, such as Simon O’Brien in Liverpool and Chris Boardman in Greater Manchester.

Boardman, the city-region’s cycling and walking champion, said: “During lockdown, roads were quieter and people felt safer so we saw a real surge in the number of people cycling and walking their journeys.

“Now we need to enable them to continue to travel on foot and by bike, making it part of their everyday routine.

“The data we receive from Strava Metro is helping us to get a greater insight into where, when and why people are cycling and walking. This sort of data is invaluable when making decisions about developing future infrastructure.”

According to the Strava Metro data, May 2020 was the peak month for growth in the number of people cycling, ahead of lockdown restrictions staring to be eased, with low levels of motor trafic helping encourage people to get in the saddle.

Until now, data from Strava Metro, which helps identify the routes where infrastructure is most needed, among other things, has been made available to transport planners and municipal authorities for a fee.

By providing the data for free from now on, Strava hopes to help accelerate growth in sustainable travel post-pandemic, with Mark Gainey, its co-founder and chairman, commenting: “We always believed there were special ways in which the Strava community could contribute to the world at-large.  Strava Metro was one such way.

“And given the growing need for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, we felt Strava Metro was too valuable and important not to make available to any organisation attempting to make a difference in designing the cities of the future.”

London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has transformed how Londoners think about travel, and we’ve been working to make cycling easier and safer for all, to help avoid a damaging car-led recovery and make sure the improvements in air quality made in lockdown are not lost.

“Strava Metro has played an important part in improving how we understand and plan for cycling in London, and highlights the shift towards sustainable modes of transport.

“By making this data freely available, cities can use it to plan improvements that will enable more people to walk, cycle and stay active.”

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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