LEICESTER is celebrating Bike Week this week - as figures show the number of cyclists recorded at key sites in the city has nearly doubled since this time last year.
Across 14 count sites in the city, automatic monitoring has shown a 45 per cent increase in cyclists compared to the same week last year (w/c 27/05/19 compared to w/c 25/05/20) - as key workers choose alternative ways to travel and people choose to cycle for exercise in response to the coronavirus lockdown.
Bike Week, organised by Cycling UK, is an annual celebration to showcase cycling across the UK. Bike Week 2020 runs from 6-14 June.
In Leicester, a series of recent initiatives has helped to make cycling more appealing for local people. These include:
- A focus on active travel (cycling and walking) in Leicester’s covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan, which includes a commitment to create a mile every week for 10 weeks of new cycling and walking routes, both by using pop-up temporary routes or bringing forward the completion date for longer-term, permanent infrastructure projects.
- New pop-up cycle tracks installed over recent weeks at Aylestone Road, Saffron Lane, London Road, Hinckley Road and Abbey Park Road, plus further improvements for cyclists and pedestrians along the Golden Mile and Queens Road
- 63 self-guided rides available to download from the Let’s Ride website to help people to explore their local area by bike
- The Leicester Bike Aid project, which has helped around 750 people get around during the lockdown, by providing free bike loans for key workers (250+ so far) and bike-fixes for everyone (500+ so far).
- The reopening of Leicester’s city centre Bike Park on 8 June – and fees waived so that secure bike parking is currently free for everyone
- The chance to earn points for bike rides through the free Betterpoints app, which can then be redeemed for high street vouchers. Cyclists get double points on the app during June.
- Free bike safety checks and basic fixes taking place every week, across the city, organised by the city council, Sustrans and local bike shops. Find out where and when at choosehowyoumove.co.uk/bike-aid
- The city council’s Wheels To Work scheme and grants for businesses to help more of their employees choose active travel are continuing despite the lockdown. Twelve Wheels2Work bikes – including 10 e-bikes – are currently out on hire, to people studying or working in diverse roles such as nursing, probation, manufacturing and lecturing. The bikes are used to travel anything from five to 13 miles a day.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke said: “There has been a huge surge in popularity for cycling since the coronavirus lockdown began – which means every week is Bike Week in Leicester at the moment.
“We are really keen to build on this momentum to help even more local people to become everyday cyclists. This could be something really positive to come out of this awful crisis.
“There is a wealth of evidence that creating space walking and cycling has a very positive impact on the high street, as well as promoting health, cleaning the air and helping to combat the climate emergency.
“More and more people are realising the benefits of cycling, walking and people-friendly streets, which is why we have put these at the heart of our covid-19 transport recovery plan.
“We know that not everyone can walk or cycle, but by making it as easy, safe and pleasant as possible for those who can, we free up our transport network for those who can’t. The results are incredibly positive for all of us.”
To find out more about Bike Week, visit www.cyclinguk.org/bikeweek
Leicester’s covid-19 Transport Recovery Plan can be found at www.leicester.gov.uk/citymayor by clicking on ‘key strategy documents’.
To find out more about cycling in Leicester, visit www.leicester.gov.uk/cycling,
www.choosehowyoumove.co.uk or the Ride Leicester Facebook page.