Wales

Coronavirus: Lockdown 'reigniting a love for cycling'

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Media captionA cycling group says lockdown is "a once in a lifetime opportunity"

Coronavirus has changed the way we live in Wales - negatively in many cases, but cycling is one area which has been given an unexpected boost.

Welsh Cycling chief Anne Adams-King said there is "a once in a lifetime opportunity" to inspire Wales to cycle.

Bike shops have been allowed to remain open during lockdown and, coupled with sunny weather, numbers involved in the pastime have boomed.

Campaign Choose Cycling wants people to continue doing so after the pandemic.

"Despite the times we are currently living in, we are seeing a resurgence in cycling across Wales," Ms Adams-King said.

"All of this is creating the once in a lifetime opportunity to inspire Wales to cycle."

With its Gower coastline, Swansea is one area which has seen an increase.

The campaign - spearheaded by British Cycling and other organisations - highlights the city as seeing numbers tripling and it will use £2.7m of Welsh Government Active Travel funding to create new routes.

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Image caption People have been cycling in coastal areas such as Llandudno

Figures compiled for Sport Wales also suggest 67% of people in Wales have cycled for leisure more than usual under lockdown, while nearly 66% of adults believe it is more important than ever and 10% of the population overall have been out for a ride.

Sport Wales' acting chief executive Brian Davies said: "Lockdown has presented new challenges when it comes to being active and taking daily exercise, but a huge positive has been so many people and families reigniting a love for cycling."

He said it was important that "we don't lose that momentum" from leisure, fitness and active travel perspectives.

Ryland Jones, Interim deputy director of cycling charity Sustrans Cymru, said: "I've definitely seen more people cycling.

"It's really good because a lot of people are returning to cycling and a lot of new cyclists too."

He said a reason that put many off was the "speed and volume of traffic" and not enough space on roads, but with people not driving, cyclists have been able to social distance while out.

Mr Jones called for this to lead to changes to towns and cities to make sure it continues into the future, adding: "I think it's about making sure you feel comfortable and just go out and enjoy it."

The Welsh Government said it had pledged more than £40m to walking and cycling schemes - "the largest funding boost for such initiatives to date".

"We intend to go further in order to make Wales more walking and cycling friendly, including revised planning policy and 20mph speed limits," a spokesman said.

"We have written to all local authority leaders to invite expression of interest on ways to re-allocate road space. This is to allow people to move about in a safe environment as we look to ease coronavirus restrictions."

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