The reactivated bike: Self-reported cycling activity during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in Australia
Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
In western societies, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic restrictions created a boom in cycling activity and business. This article reports findings from an Australia-wide survey that invited responses from those who changed their cycling behaviour during the pandemic lockdowns. The survey premise was that the pandemic lockdowns in each state presented the conditions of a ‘natural experiment’ to test whether the reduction in automobile traffic affected how cyclists reported experiencing the cycling environment. The survey was in the field from 3 August to 16 September 2020 with purposive sampling. A total of 699 respondents participated, with 444 complete surveys. Key questions we seek to address include: Did cycling activity increase during the pandemic shutdowns? How did cyclists from under-represented groups experience the pandemic lockdowns? The findings are twofold. First, cycling activity increased among most respondents during pandemic lockdowns for exercise and wellbeing, but not for transport. Our survey reports that for respondents the pandemic lockdowns did not result in an uptake of active transport, despite the appearance of ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes. Second, the reduced traffic of the pandemic shutdown period created a particular opportunity for women to ride bikes. The key policy implication is that cities in Australia should be designed for more relaxed modalities of mobility if the goal is to increase rates of active travel and cycling activity.
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Australian Research Council