Bicycle use has surged 47% on Saturdays and 62% on Sundays since 20 February and is now higher than any time since November, according to new figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT). The official government figures reveal cycling use shot up 24% over the past 12 months across the UK, as councils were allocated more cash and emergency planning powers to install cycle lanes.
However, the official figures show the biggest rise is not for commuting, but for leisure use, with 60% more riders in the saddle at weekends and bank holidays. By comparison, weekday use is up just 8% over the same period, which coincides with the lockdown’s one-year anniversary.
Data from Quotezone.co.uk own data – which launched the UK’s first price comparison website for bicycle insurance shows 2020 – was at a four-year high in terms of bicycle insurance volumes, with a 173% increase from 2019. 2021 has set off at a similar pace with the highest recorded volumes for January-March, for the last 5 years – 130% increase from the same period in 2020.
The DfT’s research, carried out from 23 March 2020 to 19 March 2021, used the equivalent day on the first week of March last year as a benchmark for the data collection period. Quotezone.co.uk’s own research is based on a sample of 26,000 premiums collected over a 12-month period from February 2020 to January 2021, which was cross-referenced with samples from previous years in order to calculate the rate of growth.
ELECTRIC BIKE BOOM?
Insurers and brokers may find their best customers are owners of electric bikes, which tend to be more expensive to buy and therefore are seen as worth insuring. Typical costs are £700-£1500, which takes them above the usual home Contents policy threshold. Interetingly, Indian giant Hero has set up a UK HQ, to expand its reach in the UK. Hero is one of the big scooter, motorcycle and bicycle makers in India.
Data released by Bikmo earlier this year showed that thieves are targeting homes much more, not that lockdown has decreased their opportunity to steal bikes from train stations, pavement parking bays and outside offices. Bikmo’s research also found that e-bike owners were 38% less likely to make a claim, compared to traditional racer, MTB or other purely pedal-powered bikes.
SUMMER USE WILL PROVE BIKE LANES A WINNER – OR A WASTE OF MONEY
Responding to the new data, Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk says: “It’s not surprising that bicycles are gaining in popularity once again but to already be 130% up on last year’s sales is surprising, considering the good weather has yet to arrive. It will be interesting to see how the commuting figures respond as people consider returning to the office after 12th April – I would imagine cycling would prove more popular than public transport until the population is completely vaccinated.
“I’d recommend, before cyclists sign up for a new bicycle insurance policy, that they double check whether or not their home insurance covers their bike, and if so, whether it’s insured for its full value. If the bike isn’t covered, or if the single item limit on the home insurance policy means the coverage won’t cover the full value of the vehicle, they can purchase a standalone bicycle insurance policy and add on any extras they might need.”
Better weather and lighter evenings will prove the taxpayer investment in urban cycle lanes was justified. Councils will be doing traffic surveys in June to prove this is the case no doubt. In the end, if the UK wants a genuine cycling culture, then much more needs to be done in the public sector regarding bicycle security, with Dutch style bike parks in city centres – some underground – and truly separate cycleways that keep cyclists well away from buses, cars and trams.
Watch the video below to see how it should be done.
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