Data suggests cycling in West Yorkshire up by a quarter in 2020

Latest figures from Data Mill North suggest that cycling in West Yorkshire has risen considerably in 2020.

Taken from 36 cyclist recorders around the district, the data shows that cyclist counts could reach a total which is just shy of being 25 per cent higher than in 2019.

This projection is based on the average cyclist counts from the past few months of 191,420, plus the comparison between the 2020 total from January to September of 1,519,718, and the complete 2019 total which was 1,620,778.

Yorkshire Voice Graph depicts West Yorkshire cyclist counts by year

This year has seen an increase in exercise in general across the country because of lockdown in March to May only allowing one piece of exercise per person per day.

For instance, the Bike Association has released data showing that bike sales went up by 60 per cent across Britain in April, as reported by The Guardian.

Additionally, this year, Leeds City Council has increased its efforts to make Leeds, the biggest city in West Yorkshire, more cyclist-friendly through continuing their ‘Connecting Leeds’ scheme.

This has seen cycle lanes being widened on key cycling routes and the trial of active travel neighbourhoods to pedestrianise areas such as Hyde Park.

The council aims to have increased annual cycling trips in Leeds via this scheme by 300 per cent to 109 million by 2027.

This widening of cycle lanes such as the one on Headingley Lane (A660) has been met with a mostly positive response.

One person on Twitter said they had “been waiting years for this to happen!”.

Yorkshire Voice Orca wands along the widened cycle lane on Headingley Lane (A660)

However, the attempt at pedestrianising Hyde Park has been met with some criticism, with some of the planters placed in the centre of roads, to stop cars, being overturned.

By comparing the map of cycle counter locations below and the map of key cycle routes in Leeds identified in the ‘Connecting Leeds’ scheme, it is obvious that these networks do in fact pick up a lot of traffic.

This expanding cycle route network and focus on the network is also reflected in the growing number of cyclist recorders: 10 additional cameras were added in 2019.

Despite there being fewer cameras, the figures from 2017 and 2018 are considerably lower than you would expect anyway, showing that this rise in cyclist numbers has been ongoing for the past few years.

As well as the focus on Leeds, the wider West Yorkshire community has also seen an increased focus of spending on cycle infrastructure.

As reported by Air Quality News, West Yorkshire Combined Authority is to spend £127 million on new transport infrastructure across the district and received £2.5 million from the Department of Transport’s Emergency Travel Fund to spend on making cycling better in the region.

At York Railway Station, a £14.4 million package will be used to create better cycling routes to the station and better cycle parking at the station.

The chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Cllr Denise Jeffery has said: “We need to reduce car trips by 21 per cent and increase cycling trips by 2000 per cent.”

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