07 May 2020
Implications for transport sector as four in five people who are walking and cycling more, expect to continue this change after Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted.
Graphic depicts two people walking, two people cycling and one person working at a desk.

Increasing demand for wider pavements and new cycleways is likely to continue, even after travel restrictions are lifted, reports SYSTRA Ltd in a new representative research study of 1,500 UK residents.

Many people are choosing to walk and cycle as part of their daily exercise ‘allowance’ and are swapping to active travel for other daily journeys during the current lockdown. Roughly four in five (80%) of them expect to continue this change.

One in five people expect to use public transport less once restrictions are lifted, and whilst ‘fear of getting ill’ is the main reason given, one in seven people say it is because they have found a new way to travel.

  • Of those whose walking for leisure/exercise has increased (36%), 81% think they will continue this change.
  • Of those whose cycling for leisure/exercise has increased (9%), 74% think they will continue this change.

Many pavements are less than 2 metres wide and pedestrians and cyclists are struggling with social distancing. Road traffic levels have fallen significantly, so there is an obvious opportunity to share road space more equitably, and possibly make these changes permanent. Our research shows that active travel will increase, even after travel restrictions are lifted.

Paul Osborne, Associate (Cycling Lead), SYSTRA Ltd

The research study also reveals a wider shift in working patterns as one in six (17%) of UK full or part time workers believe they will work from home more once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted. This is primarily to save the commute time and cost, and to provide a better work-life balance.

This predicted change in working location is the reason behind a quarter (24%) of the predicted reduction in public transport use. In addition, two-thirds (67%) believe virtual meetings will replace some or all business trips or meetings, further reducing the need to travel.

Infographic depicting the interest in walking and cycling increase as exercise is encouraged and people switch from public transport

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