Since nextbike launched in 2018, the appetite for cycling in Cardiff has been clear to see.
Nextbikes have been rented more than 833,000 times across the city, making it our most successful scheme in the UK to date.
What’s been remarkable – and heartening – to see this summer is that from April to August 2020, we’ve seen new customer registrations rise by almost a quarter in comparison to the increase during the same period in 2019.
Given that period this included the whole of lockdown and the Covid 19 restrictions that have remained due to pandemic, it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of these new customers are Cardiff residents, rather than visiting tourists or university students.
This certainly hasn’t happened by accident. From the scheme’s conception back in 2017, we’ve worked closely with planners from our partners at Cardiff Council to ensure the scheme we provide has been both effective and reliable. We also asked the people of Cardiff where they would like to see stations as part of the planning process.
This has led to the nextbike network that operates successfully across the city centre and beyond.
Even with all of the planning, we know that it’s not enough to put bikes on the streets and simply expect people to ride them. We need to normalise cycling for the masses – that means pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The more bikes we see on the road, the safer cycling becomes as other road users get used to sharing their space with them.
We also need to give people the confidence to feel safe enough to give cycling a go, and training can play a huge part in this. We have groups of people getting back into cycling after not getting into the saddle since childhood, and the results can be life changing. Customers are healthier both physically and mentally, they’re reducing their carbon footprint and they’re helping to keep congestion levels down.
Fundamentally, it also means changing the way we view our urban spaces, which have traditionally been dominated by cars and other motorised vehicles. It can be daunting for experienced riders to cycle alongside city centre traffic, so it can be a huge barrier to entry for new cyclists.
It’s no surprise that a spike in cycling over the summer coincided with the huge reduction in traffic that we saw as a result of lockdown.
While it’s virtually impossible to start our cities from scratch to include adequate segregated cycling provisions, the Covd 19 restrictions have given planners the chance to reimagine street and road space as people look for new ways to move around safely.
Increasing pop up bike lanes in the city has almost certainly given more people the confidence to feel safe and secure enough to try out a nextbike, as evidenced by the increase in registrations.
Let's hope the lessons learned this summer continue well into the future and Cardiff continues to evolve to allow more people than ever to cycle safely.
For more information about nextbike in Cardiff visit www.nextbike.co.uk/en/cardiff/