TfL data shows huge increase in foot and cycle journeys during the pandemic

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Transport for London (TfL) has published a report that outlines the vital role played by walking and cycling during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic had a significant impact on people’s travel habits during 2020, as people worked from home or followed Government advice to stay at home or minimize use of public transport. TfL’s Travel in London report uses data gathered from travel surveys to calculate the number of trips made on each mode of transport in London.

While the total number of trips made in 2020 decreased dramatically, the number of journeys cycled increased by 6.4%, a remarkable change in the context of lower general activity and major reductions to workplace commuting. This meant that over the year, the proportion of journeys cycled accounted for 3.4% of all journeys, up from 2.3% in 2019 – a 48% increase in the proportion of journeys made by bike.

There was also a significant increase in the number of trips walked in London in 2020, with the proportion of journeys made on foot by Londoners increasing from 21% of all journeys to 30% – a 43% increase.
Data from TfL’s network of cycle counters also suggests that leisure cycling in particular has boomed since the start of the pandemic, with the number of journeys at weekends regularly double those of equivalent weekends in previous years. Growth in cycling during 2020 was particularly strong in outer London, rising by 24.4%. TfL has worked closely with boroughs across London, including those in outer London, to ensure that infrastructure is in place to support these increases.

Public transport

Since the period covered by the report, bus and tube figures up to November 2021 show that public transport usage has continued to grow as Covid restrictions have been eased. Compared to before the pandemic, the Tube network on weekdays has recently seen more than 60% of journeys, but this has reached as high as 80% at weekends, while ridership on buses was regularly at 75% of pre-pandemic levels. Overall TfL figures up to November 2021 indicate that use of London’s public transport network was at around 70% of pre-pandemic levels and that millions of Londoners were returning to the transport network, showing they have confidence that it is safe, clean and reliable.

“Since the pandemic, there has been a huge uplift in walking and cycling, with a 10% increase in journeys between 2019 and 2020,” says Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner. “It’s wonderful to see more and more Londoners are choosing green and sustainable modes of transport to get around and we will continue to work closely with boroughs to transform our roads enabling even more people to shift their journeys to walking and cycling.”

“The coronavirus pandemic had a dramatic impact on travel, as people followed government advice to stay at home and avoid public transport,” says Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning. “Walking and cycling have played a vital role in allowing people to travel and it’s very encouraging to see this new data, which shows such significant increases in the proportion of journeys cycled or on foot. We’re determined to ensure that the way people travel in London is as healthy and sustainable as possible and will be doing all we can to support people to walk, cycle and use public transport as the capital recovers from the pandemic and customers continue to return to our network.”

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Lauren is acting associate editor for Traffic Technology International and freelance journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum two busy little girls. She is always in demand!