Amid increased levels of participation, this year’s Bike Week celebrates the ‘increasingly important role’ of cycling in the health of the nation.
Organised by Cycling UK, Bike Week 2020 (6-14 June) comes at a time when cycling has experienced a ‘boom’ – as a result of restrictions placed on people’s lives due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Data from both England and Scotland have shown a doubling in the numbers of people getting on their bikes since the lockdown started, while in Wales, two-thirds of those who have cycled for leisure have done so more than usual.
To recognise the particular importance of cycling as a safe mode of transport for key workers, Cycling UK has been offering a three-month free membership to health and social care workers.
By the end of the offer on 31 May, 2,857 of these key workers across the country had signed up.
The restrictions on group events mean that this year’s Bike Week is taking place digitally, with a programme of webinars and online workshops – including a discussion with Dragon’s Den star Piers Linney.
The overarching theme is Health and Wellbeing, with each day taking a different focus under the #7daysofcycling hashtag on social media. People are encouraged to share photos and videos of their cycling activities for a chance to win prizes.
Pete Fitzboydon, interim chief executive of Cycling UK, said: “The reduction in vehicle traffic and increase in cycling during lockdown has allowed a glimpse of a different, more active future, and it would be a great shame to turn our backs on this and return to business as usual.
“Bike Week is a chance to share the fun and freedom that cycling offers, but this year the real focus is on the health benefits – not only for the individual but for society as a whole.
“We are encouraging everybody to get out on their bikes at least once during the week, spreading the message that even a short ride can make a big difference.”
Chris Heaton-Harris, cycling minister, said: “Covid-19 has made us rethink how we work, shop, and travel – and we have seen so many people over the past couple of months discovering or re-discovering a love of cycling as they look for new ways to get around.
“Bike Week is a great opportunity for people to give cycling a go, and be inspired to choose an environmentally friendly form of travel with major health benefits – improving the quality of air that we breathe and helping people to get fit and stay healthy.
“I hope that after the crisis, cycling becomes the natural choice for many more on short journeys so that we can keep these benefits for the longer term.”