Images courtesy of Transport for London
From cutting air pollution to giving rise to hybrid work, the pandemic reshaped many aspects of urban life. In London, one of its legacies might be a sustained uptake in bike riding.
The number of daily bike journeys in London has increased from 1.19 million in 2022 to 1.26 million in 2023, and cycling numbers are up 20% on 2019 figures.
Like many cities around the world, London experienced a bike boom during COVID-19 as workers were urged to swap public transport and take up two-wheeled travel to curb transmission of the disease.
Transport for London seized the opportunity to boost active travel by committing to more than 100km of pop-up bike lanes through its Streetspace for London program.
The proportion of trips completed by bike surged from 3.6% in 2019 to 6.1% in 2020.
In the latest annual Travel in London report, the numbers have settled but still represent a marked increase in bike riding on the pre-pandemic years. The proportion of trips completed by bike in across the 2022/23 financial year was 4.5%.
Separate data in the report shows that 24% of Londoners rode a bike in the past financial year, up from 21% in 2019/2020.
Transport for London attributes the sustained uptake of bike riding to the continued investment in dedicated infrastructure. The city's strategic cycle network has expanded rapidly, from 90km long in 2016 to 352km long today.
Over that time, the proportion of Londoners living within 400 metres of the strategic cycle network has surged from an estimated 5% in 2016 to 24.2% in November 2023.
Transport for London's ambition is to have 70% of Londoners live within 400 metres of the strategic cycle network by 2041.
"I'm delighted to see the increase in cycling and walking journeys in London continue for yet another year," says London's Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman.
"The Mayor and I are committed to boosting this further. We will continue to expand the network of cycleways and make more junctions and crossings safer.
"We're determined to build a cleaner, greener and more prosperous London for everyone, and investing in sustainable transport options is a vital part of that."
The full Travel in London 2023 annual report can be accessed here.
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