Cycling soars in Liverpool, saving 6,313 tonnes of CO2

New research carried out by energy supplier comparison business Utility Bidder looked at cycling in 10 UK cities since March and recorded a huge upsurge in Liverpool. Tony McDonough reports

Liverpool City Council installed pop-up cycle routes in the summer


Journeys made by bicycle have soared by 222% since the first COVID-19 lockdown in March, new data shows.

Research carried out by energy supplier comparison business Utility Bidder also revealed the increase in cycling in the city has led to a saving of 6,313 tonnes of CO2. The study assumes each journey swapped from car to bicycle is 10km.

Using data from exercise app Strava and cycling data for specific cities from Sustrans, the researchers were able to measure the increase in cycling in 10 major UK cities. It found an overall increase in cycling of 127%.

In Manchester there was a 169% increase in cycling, which saved an estimated 4,443 tonnes of CO2. Cycling in London was up 119%, offering a 45,846-tonne CO2 saving. Cycling was up in all 10 cities.

The figures will be vindication for both Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority who are both investing in both temporary pop-up and permanent cycle paths.

In May, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson announced the creation of 100km of pop-up cycle lanes on main routes onto the city centre in a £2m investment. It followed an announcement by the Government of a £2bn package to encourage people to cycle and walk more.

Liverpool is also working to install more permanent cycles lanes in the city. The £22m upgrade of The Strand on the waterfront will see a new permanent cycle lane connect the north and south of the city. Cyclists will eventually be able to ride from Otterspool all the way to Southport.

A £9m upgrade of Lime Street will also see the installation of a permanent cycle lane. The council has put cycling and walking at the heart of its £47m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme.

In June, Liverpool’s Cycling Commissioner Simon O’Brien described Liverpool’s current cycling infrastructure as “woeful beyond woeful” but added he saw the pop-lanes as a golden opportunity to herald a new era of cycling in the city.

He said: “This is the chance of a lifetime to put in lanes all over the place and find out what works… every mile of permanent cycle lanes costs around £1m but the temporary lanes costs just £60,000 a mile.”

Simon O’Brien
Simon O’Brien, Liverpool City Region Cycling and Walking Commissioner


Simon believes the city could become a world leader in cycling and traffic management. “if we can keep everyone on board”. Following the start of work on the Lime Street upgrade in October, he called the city’s plans for cycling routes as a “people, and planet, first approach”.

In August the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority began installing new pop-up walking and cycling routes across all six boroughs of Liverpool city region. The cycle lanes and extended footpaths will total 23km and there will also be extra storage at new cycle hubs.

They marked a significant step towards the city region’s long-term plans for a 600km walking and cycling network – with £30.7m already committed to building and upgrading routes across the Liverpool city region.

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