The number of people cycling more than doubled in some parts of Scotland last year as lockdown restrictions led to a drop in road traffic and growing safety confidence.

Campaigners are now calling for increased investment in infrastructure such as designated cycle lanes to sustain the increase and encourage more people swap their cars for commuting by bike.

READ MORE: Cycling in Glasgow city centre soars by 80%

According to data gathered by Cycling Scotland's nationwide network of 47 automatic cycle counters, there were 47 per cent more cycling journeys recorded overall between March 23 2020 and March 22 2021, compared to the same period in 2019-2020.

In Girvan, Callander and Dunoon, the number of bike rides rose by more than 100% over the year.


The sharpest spikes Scotland-wide were seen in the months immediately after lockdown, with 68% and 77% more cycle journeys recorded respectively in April and May 2020, before gradually reducing to a year-on-year increase of 4% by December.

In January this year, amid adverse weather conditions, the number of cycle journeys being taken was actually down by 14% compared to January 2020, before the pandemic.

However, the figures rebounded with the cycle counters recording 20% more bike journeys in February this year and a 52% upturn during the three weeks from March 1 to 22 last month.

READ MORE: Edinburgh and Glasgow react to new cycle lanes 

Cycling Scotland said the figures were a "bright spot in a horrendous year".

The charity's chief executive Keith Irving said: "Cycling has a key role to play in people getting exercise and fresh air, managing the ongoing pressure on our transport system and, crucially, tackling the global climate emergency we face.

"We're delighted at the massive increase in cycling and it's vital we see it continue and expand."

HeraldScotland: Keith Irving, chief executive Cycling ScotlandKeith Irving, chief executive Cycling Scotland

He added: "To get even more people cycling, we need to invest more in infrastructure so people feel safe to cycle.

"We need more dedicated cycle lanes, separated from vehicles and pedestrians. We need to reduce traffic, especially on residential and shopping streets. And we need to increase access to bikes and storage to tackle the barriers too many people face so anyone, anywhere can enjoy all the benefits of cycling."

READ MORE: 20 of Scotland's favourite cycle routes

Claire Sharp, a charity worker who lives on Glasgow's south side, started cycling again last year.

She said: "I live next to a main road that leads into the city centre to my work; it's an easy route but the traffic there is so heavy. I was too scared to attempt it in the past.

"I knew lockdown was going to happen and thought it would be good to get a bike.

"Partly as the roads would be quiet, which would be good for a beginner, and also for exercise as the gyms would be closed."

Asif Sattar, 45, an IT worker from Motherwell, said: "I played football all my days and as there was a lockdown I took up cycling.

"Cycling was a way for me to break free of the lockdown gloom.

"As I was working from home, getting out on my bike helped me exercise, clear the mind and refocus on my health during the pandemic."