The UK government introduced strict measures (including asking people to work from home and a lockdown) to slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting people’s movement. This led to substantial reductions in traffic, making roads much safer for cyclists. This provides a unique opportunity to study the role played by safe cycling infrastructure. Many UK cities have provided cycling infrastructure to improve safety and encourage cycling. However, access to safe cycling infrastructure varies across neighbourhoods, potentially contributing to inequality. Since roads became safer due to the unprecedented reduction in traffic during the lockdown, safe cycling infrastructure may not play a significant role during this period. On the other hand, safe cycling lanes are often connected to amenities, potentially attracting cyclists even if they confer no additional safety benefit. That is, connectivity might matter more than safety. In this study, we utilised crowdsourced cycling data and regression models to examine the extent to which cycling intensity for non-commuting purposes changes with different types of cycling infrastructure in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. In addition, we selected some areas with large increases in cycling intensity and examined the surrounding environments using Google Street View. Our results showed that non-commuting cycling activities increased significantly after the government interventions on both typical roads and safe cycling lanes while much higher increases were observed on safe cycling lanes than on other roads. A further analysis showed that there were large increases in cycling volumes on both typical roads and safe cycling lanes with good amenities and connectivity, highlighting the importance of these factors when building new cycling infrastructure. Since safe cycling lanes are not equally accessible to people, providing temporary cycling lanes during the pandemic considering these conditions could encourage people to cycle more, and thereby improve their health.
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