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Lockdown Easing and Women Cycling

On March 29th 2021 in England, another marker on the road out of lockdown was met, with citizens now able to meet up in groups of 6 for numerous activities, including exercise. After a long wait, being able to do fitness together brings a sigh of relief, and it will be interesting to see how people change their daily exercise regimes with the new freedom.

Indeed, the tale of lockdown has been having to adapt our exercise lifestyles, whether that be from the gyms being shut or having more time on our hands to spend active. Recently, the incredibly-successful health-and-fitness tracker app, Strava, has released interesting figures on how our exercise habits have changed since the first lockdown in March 2020. Unsurprisingly, our general activity as a nation has gone up, with Simon Klima of Strava citing an 82% increase in all exercise over the course of last year.

Cycling, in particular, has experienced a sharp rise, with an increase of more than 35% on previous years in London and by almost 50% in the South East.

This was helped by the better weather we had in spring last year, with numbers of cyclists dipping slightly in autumn but increasing even over winter, which is unusual.

The reasons for this increase were roads being generally less busy as well as the rollout of Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods and temporary cycle lanes in urban areas, which we spoke about in a previous blog post.

Interestingly, there has been a noticeable spike in the number of female-app users who are cycling. Indeed, with women generally less inclined to cycle than men (a 2019 survey found that only 9% of women cycle regularly whereas 21% of men do), this is an important step in promoting female cycling.

Evidence shows that the disproportionate concern which prevents women from cycling is danger from traffic. This is a warranted concern, given that female cyclists in the UK are twice as likely to experience dangerous passes and harassment by drivers.

To combat this, more female-centric cycling infrastructure is needed, including well-lit bike lanes which are separated from traffic and which facilitate diverse journeys and on outer-to-outer city routes, which are more likely to be taken by women. Moreover, additional attention needs to be paid on linking bike routes with other forms of transport, along with better-lit and secure bicycle parking.

In the Netherlands and Denmark for example, 55% of journeys by bike are made by women, thanks to significant investment by the Dutch and Danish governments in some of the measures listed above.

We hope that the UK will continue to promote cycling to hold onto this recent influx of riders, and of women bikers in particular.

ARCC Bikes produces its own women's bike & eBike: the step-through Rosemont.

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