A lot has been made of the 2020 bike boom. From popup bike lanes, trail overcrowding, and a shortage of bikes (after all, ‘bikes are the new toilet paper’), the pandemic got more people in the saddle than anyone could have ever imagined.
For nearly one year now, we have been tracking the growth of bike counts across 11 European countries and 8 regions across the United States and Canada. The data, found here on our free, interactive online dashboard, aggregates bike counts from a representative sample of bike counters in urban areas across each country and presents the weekly and monthly percent change in bike counts compared to 2019. Data is also broken down by weekday and weekend.
Before fully closing the door on 2020, we thought we would take a moment to look back on some of the astonishing bike count trends from last year. We dug through some of our data analyses and social media posts from the year and here are our eight favorite cycling data trends from 2020.
1. 2020 was an important, significant year for cycling growth in Europe
Overall, bike counts were significantly up across Europe during 2020. Keep in mind that this significant growth (23% on the weekend!) was achieved despite a drastic reduction in mobility across the continent due to lockdowns.
2. Breaking the growth in bike counts down by season – Europe wide
If we break down that year-long, Europe wide statistic, we see how the growth in bike counts was distributed throughout the year. Even before the pandemic, cycling was off to a strong start in Europe. The spring lockdowns then significantly suppressed counts, followed by sustained growth throughout the year, in particular during weekends.
3. 2020 weekend bike count growth by European country
Throughout the year, weekend bike count growth was higher than weekdays. Intuitively, this makes sense – because of the pandemic, more people were working from home, suppressing weekday bike counts as there was less commuting. However during the weekend, people sought fresh air and outdoor recreation during this difficult time, pushing up weekend counts.
Some of the weekend growth statistics are quite remarkable. The 51% growth in the UK is made more amazing by the fact that weekday counts in the UK fell overall by 4% in 2020 compared to 2019.
4. Bike counts grew by 16% in the United States during 2020
What about the US? Looking at year long, combined data from all 6 regions of the US, we see significant growth in bike counts compared to 2019. Once again, weekend bike count growth was particularly strong at 29% higher than the year before.
5. Weekday vs. weekend bike count growth by North American region – 2020 vs 2019
In North America, just like Europe, weekend bike count growth was higher than weekday growth. The growth in weekend bike counts was strong across all regions of North America, once again suggesting a strong demand for recreational cycling during a challenging year.
6. How the year unfolded in bike counts – March to November 2020 in Europe and North America
If we look at the growth in bike counts by week, between March and November 2020, some really interesting trends emerge. In Europe, strict lockdown measures dramatically reduced bike counts in the spring. However, in North America, the early pandemic immediately increased counts right away. In both continents, counts were then continuously higher throughout the summer, followed by another boom during the pandemic’s fall second wave.
7. The pandemic also changed the daily trends of cyclists
One of the most fascinating cycling trends to emerge from the pandemic was how daily cycling trends changed. The graph below shows the daily cycling profile – that is, the distribution of bike counts throughout a day – for a large North American city, comparing the months before the pandemic to the first two months of the pandemic. The reduced morning rush hour – likely due to increased work from home practices – is particularly apparent.
8. 2020 ended with the bike boom in full swing
Last but not least, let’s take a look at how the year wrapped up. Looking at the full-week percent change in bike counts vs 2019, for the last twelve weeks of 2020, we see that for the most part the bike boom was going strong. The majority of countries in our dataset were seeing double digit growth in bike counts at the end of the year. The data below represents full week trends, but as you may have guessed, weekend trends continue to be very strong- up as much as 118% vs 2019 in Canada (East) and 106% in the US Northeast.
Tracking the boom into 2021
As 2021 unfolds, we will continue to track the global cycling boom on our interactive dashboard. To keep up to date on the latest data trends, keep an eye on our social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and here on our blog.
Looking to use this data in your own research or article? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org