Londoners Jump on Bikes in Record Numbers as Restrictions Ease
(Bloomberg) -- A record number of Londoners hired bicycles last weekend after the U.K. started to relax the country’s lockdown.
Rentals on Saturday and Sunday reached 97,502, surpassing the previous busiest weekend in July 2016, according to Transport for London, the city’s transit manager.
The new mark signals a turnaround for cycle hires, which slumped during the first stage of the lockdown when people were only allowed out for essential trips and a single exercise session a day. As the economy starts to reopen, Mayor Sadiq Khan plans to expand sidewalks and create temporary cycle lanes throughout the city to help people avoid public transport, where they could transmit the virus, and to provide an alternative to traveling in cars, which could increase air pollution.
Sunday saw 51,303 rentals, an increase of more than 60% on a similar day last year. Outside of strikes, it was the first time there were more than 50,000 hires in a single day, a spokewoman for TfL said, adding that they expect numbers to increase further. Customers pay as little as 2 pounds ($2.44) for 24 hours access to the bicycles, which are being provided for free to key workers.
TfL is under pressure to get subway and bus services back to 100% as soon as possible as people start returning to their places of work.
On Monday morning, subway ridership was about 19% higher than a week earlier. That was a larger increase than in recent weeks, TfL said. But ridership is still about 8% of last year’s levels as most people stay home to work or avoid public transport.
TfL said it is now operating 75% of subway services, and that the Circle line and an additional seven underground stations have reopened. More than 80% of bus services are currently running.
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