A video showing Westminster at lunchtime has revealed how many more cyclists are taking to the roads during the coronavirus lockdown.
In the clip, filmed at 1.30pm on Monday, tens of people of all different ages can be seen passing the Houses of Parliament on bikes. Several of them appear to be using Santander Cycles, introduced by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London.
Current lockdown rules instruct Brits to try and avoid public transport where possible – meaning much of London’s car-less population have taken up cycling. Peter Stuart, who shot the video, said the number of bikes was ‘incredible’ and noted that it was more than he’d ever seen before in rush hour.
He added: ‘If this is the new normal, we could have cleaner air, safer streets, a healthier population. A silver lining perhaps.’
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The government is striving to make the UK more accessible to cyclists, both during lockdown and beyond, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announcing a £2,000,000,000 package to be spent on biking and walking earlier this month.
Meanwhile pop-up bike lanes, cycle-only corridors and safer junctions are being created across England as part of a £250,000,000 emergency active travel fund.
Money is also being invested in creating 1,180 more cycle parking spaces outside 30 railway stations so people can incorporate a bike ride while travelling long distances.
Already lockdown has led to a huge increase in bike buying, with popular chain Evans Cycles stating that they have seen an ‘unprecedented demand’. The company now has a two-week wait for bike models to be delivered.
Halfords CEO Graham Stapleton said they had also seen a big growth in the number of female customers and people under the age of 35 buying bikes.
Asked if he thought the cycling boom would continue after coronavirus pandemic ends, he told The Guardian: ‘I think some of this will continue. People need bikes to get to work because there isn’t any other option.’
Anyone wishing to hire the Santander Cycles in London needs only a debit card to pay for their bike and go. It costs users £2 to hire a bike for 24 hours, but riders may encounter extra charges if they cycle for more than 30 minutes at a time.
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