Cycling in Scotland increased for the fourth month in a row as the country entered phase three of its route map out of lockdown, according to new figures.

Data from automatic cycle counters reviewed by Cycling Scotland suggests in July there was a 44% rise in the number of people on bikes compared with the same month in 2019.

Scotland entered phase three in the plan to recover from the coronavirus pandemic on Friday July 10.

READ MORE: SNP urges Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme

Ten of the organisation’s 46 locations recorded increases of well over 100% during that month, including counters in Irvine (182%) and Lenzie (140%).

July’s increase follows rises of 68% in April, 77% in May and 63% in June compared with the same months last year.

Natalie Cozzolino, Cycling Scotland monitoring and development officer, said: “We were concerned that the progressive lifting of many lockdown restrictions would lead to a big drop in the number of people cycling.

“So it’s encouraging to see that although there’s been a decrease in July, the nation’s renewed interest in cycling is still continuing.

“By the end of the year, we will have a better understanding of the medium-term impact of Covid-19 on cycling in Scotland.

“Continued action is needed more than ever to support an increase in cycling.

“We want to encourage more people across Scotland to discover the lasting benefits of riding their bikes and to help tackle the climate emergency we face.

“Better cycling infrastructure – especially bike lanes separated from traffic – giving more people access to bikes and training and enabling people to store their bike safely are four critical elements if this increase in people cycling is to continue.”

It comes as the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme went live at around 100 shops across the country at the beginning of August.

Cycling Scotland also piloted a new Essential Cycling Skills course to help families build the skills and confidence to cycle safely.

Support worker Paula Wyllie from Annan in Dumfries and Galloway attended a session with her children – Maya, 13; Ava, 11; and nine-year-old Ben – in July.

The 35-year-old said: “We thoroughly enjoyed Cycling Scotland’s Essential Cycling Skills course.

“Our instructor, Josh, was friendly and made the session fun. He was informative, explained things clearly and answered all our questions.

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: Face coverings could become law in schools and workplaces

“We now feel more confident when out cycling as a family.”

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson also said he was “pleased to see a higher rate of cycling in July compared with the same time last year”.

He added: “Through our Covid-19 response we’re working hard to keep this momentum in cycling going across the country.

“The Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme is a key part of this approach in addition to our green recovery efforts.

“This scheme is encouraging people to safely bring older and unused bikes back on to our roads and on to the new temporary cycling infrastructure that local authorities are delivering through the £30 million Spaces for People initiative.

“At the same time, we’re also supporting access for people who don’t own a bike – and this week Glasgow City Council confirmed their public hire scheme will continue to offer free travel until spring 2021 thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

“Our package of support offers a real opportunity to keep people cycling across the winter months – helping to build an active nation and to help manage demand on our public transport network due to the pressures created by the Covid-19 outbreak.”