Biking boom: Why more Scots have taken up cycling during the pandemic

  • Video report by Clare McNeill.

The number of people cycling in Scotland has increased by almost 50% since lockdown began last March.

Restrictions on gyms and other leisure activities, as well as a need to de-stress amid the challenges of the pandemic, has seen more people getting on their bikes. 

One cycling club in the Scottish Borders says it's welcomed a wave of new members over the last year.

The Hawick Belles, an all female cycling group, have gained around 20 new members since the start of lockdown. With the many benefits of cycling, they say they're not surprised to see its popularity surge.

Credit: PA

Shiela Crowford, from Hawick Belles, said:"I think its amazing but id doesn't really surprise me because to be honest cycling has been my sanity.

"I think I've probably been out about twice or thrice a week, Ive been working from home so when you get outside and into our borders countryside it changes things, it totally just takes your mind off it."

Morgan Grieve from Hawick is one of them. She told ITV Border: "I never really cycled before lockdown, total novice, so it's been good to get out on the bike during lockdown cause the belles put challenges up and it gives you something to do.

" It gives you a target so its good to get out and clear your head when you're stuck in the house all day or work or whatever its good to be outside."

Credit: ITV News

Cycling Scotland said the figures were a "bright spot" in a “horrendous year” but called for more investment in infrastructure.

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.”

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.”

Tour of Britain, Scottish Borders. Credit: PA

The Tour of Britain, which is scheduled to take place in September, will see hundreds of cyclists race through the region this year.

Stage 6 of the event will begin in Cumbria and end in Gateshead, and stage 7 will start in Hawick and finish in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh.