A new campaign aims to build on a surge in cycling during lockdown by encouraging more people to join those who’ve already made a habit of using their bikes for short journeys.
Lancashire County Council’s Switch to Cycling campaign highlights the stories of a number of people who started cycling over the summer as the coronavirus lockdown prompted them to discover the benefits of pedal power for convenience and exercise.
The Switch to Cycling campaign includes an online one-stop-shop featuring advice and information for anyone looking to get out on their bike. It includes help and incentives available to get your old bike fixed, get new gear, or find some practical training to get you started. It will also direct you to online resources to help make the most of Lancashire’s extensive network of off-road paths to enjoy the fresh air and avoid busy roads as much as possible.
There’s currently a real need for more people to use their bikes, or walk, for short journeys to reduce the potential for traffic problems due to restrictions on public transport. More people cycling would help to avoid the potential for extra congestion if too many people make additional journeys by car, particularly when schools return in September.
Emma Rawlinson from Leyland has started cycling with her family to nursery and school.
She said: “During lockdown, we realised that we were making lots of short trips in the car that we could easily make on our bikes. We’re an active family and our children have been learning to ride this summer so we thought it was the perfect time to get into some good new habits.
“Cycling to school every morning is actually quicker for us than getting everyone in the car and negotiating the traffic here in Leyland. Being out and enjoying our local environment is so much nicer and riding to school and back every day, means there’s one less car on our roads.
“As a family, we have absolutely loved getting out on our bikes and it’s great for keeping the kids active. We are definitely going to continue to make the most of our shorter journeys on our bikes, even into the winter.”
Research shows that most journeys we make are under 5 miles, an ideal distance for cycling, and at least half of journeys to school are 2 miles or less. Measures recently introduced to help people cycle during lockdown, such as ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes and road closures to make usually busy ‘rat-runs’ into quieter cycle-friendly routes, mean there’s no better time to try cycling.
Ghazala Ali from Burnley began cycling after going on a ‘sofa to saddle’ free training course.
She said: “I wanted to start cycling as a way to get out of the house and spend some time as a family outdoors in the summer. However, I was a bit nervous as I haven’t cycled for a while so I joined the ‘sofa to saddle’ course.
“I’m working up to a 10-mile bike ride and I’ve learnt some useful skills to help me handle my bike, as well as bike maintenance. I mainly cycle on canals and parks but it’s given me more confidence to cycle on roads.
“It’s a hobby I will be carrying on through the winter months as I enjoy cycling with my daughter and I love the feeling of freedom and independence it gives me.”
County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The summer weather always brings more people out on their bikes, but there’s been a real surge in cycling as so many people found the need to make time for exercise during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Our Switch to Cycling campaign is looking to harness this enthusiasm by showing everyone the benefits of cycling, and highlighting all the practical help and advice available from a range of organisations in Lancashire for anyone who wants to take it up.
“Here in Lancashire we’ve really embraced the national drive to encourage cycling due to the current restrictions on public transport by making full use of the funding available for temporary cycling measures, so there’s no better time to start, or go from cycling for leisure to regular commuting.
“Cycling is a great thing to make part of your everyday life, and Lancashire is a wonderful place to ride.”
Find out more at www.lancashire.gov.uk/cycling.