COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

Vater Kind am Rad

Over one year ago now, we saw the start of the Corona crisis. One of its most surprising results is the increase in cycle traffic and bicycle sales. No matter whether for every-day cycling trips or sportive activities – since last year, the bicycle has significants gained in popularity and importance. Cycle Competence members Bike Citizens, Fahrrad Wien and KTM Bikes confirm this trend which is very similar in other countries.

Surveys show: Resolution becomes reality

The limitations on every-day mobility decreed to curb the Covid pandemic have had massive impact. Already in spring last year, it was clear to many Austrians that walking and cycling will in future, even after the pandemic has abated, will gain much more in significance. In a survey the Verkehrsclub Österreich (VCÖ) has conducted online among 2,500 people at the start of April 2020, all of 26% said they wanted to cycle more. This resolution was shown to be put into action,  on the one hand, in the modal split in Vienna and, on the other hand, in another survey by the VCÖ: In November, this confirmed that 26% actually used the bicycle more often. Among the ways of mobility used more often than before only cycling and walking showed an increase: 26% said they cycled more, 18% cycled less.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

“Never before since the end of World War II the mobility behaviour has changed so much within a single year as it has because of the Covid-19 pandemic this year,” confirmed VCÖ-expert Michael Schwendinger. The answers to the VCÖ-survey reveal that after the pandemic has abated investments into sustainable mobility will have to be made:

VCÖ Grafik

Modal split in Vienna upended

Cycling and walking proved to be crisis-resistant in the pandemic year 2020. This was also shown in the survey on the choice of means of transport in the modal split 2020 published by the “Wiener Linien”: 46% of distances were covered by bicycle or by walking. The usage of public transport decreased considerably while cycling increased by 30%. Cycle Competence member Fahrrad Wien attributes this to home office, distance learning and lockdowns influencing the mobility behaviour of people in Vienna. Additionally, people’s activity radius got smaller.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

The report issued by “Wiener Linien” does not reveal by how much the overall distance travelled has decreased. Only this would prove whether the increase in percentage translates to a real growth in bicycle movement in absolute figures. However, real growth can clearly be seen at the counting stations in Vienna. In 2020, 12% more cyclists were counted than in the previous year. The biggest growth was seen in May (+45%) and September (+23%). The day with the highest number of cyclists ever counted was Tuesday, 30 June 2020 with 10,389 cyclists at Opernring.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

All details on the figures available here on Fahrrad Wien.

Budapest also saw a massive increase in cycle traffic. The Budapest traffic management BKK (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ) reported a 15% increase in 2020. The five public cycling counting stations reported 2,771,710 cyclists. That is the highest figures since the counting stations were installed in 2017. The winter cycling figures even increased by 61% in December 2020 compared to the previous year.

Data from the Bike Citizens app confirms upwards trend

According to cycle competence member Bike Citizens this development was also mirrored in the usage behaviour of their navigation app customers. “While the first lockdown led to a decrease in mobility all over Europe, the Bike Citizens App saw an increase in users over the following months,” says managing director Elisabeth Felberbauer. Additionally, the bike rides became longer. However, she noticed that the regular rides to the office as part of the Bike2Work campaigns, which were recorded via the Bike Citizens App, decreased in April and May.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

Usage development during lockdowns 2020

The Bike Citizens figures are based on a Europe-wide analysis including Germany, Austria, Hungary, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Netherlands, Spain and Italy. For Vienna in particular the data confirms that cycling increased in significance especially during the second and third lockdown: “The figures show that the bicycle remains the symbol for freedom even beyond the third lockdown,” the Bike Citizens team is convinced.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

Bicycle stores see high demand and supply bottlenecks

“We have never invested more,” says Stefan Limbrunner, managing director of Cycle Competence member KTM Bikes. Since last year, the company employs 15% more people in Mattighofen. 1000 bikes are assembled by day – compared to 800 prior to the pandemic. However, to supply the enormously increased demand for KTM bicycles   1,200 bikes per day would have to be assembled. But very often the problem are missing parts stuck in the supply chain affected by Corona. This is a fate that all bicycle producers and stores share.

“Never were more bikes sold in February than this year. The number will most likely go up to 450,000”, estimates Holger Schwarting, managing director at Sport 2000 in an interview with Austrian daily “Der Standard”. Already 2019 almost 420,000 bikes were sold in Austria. Of those, 170,000 were produced domestically. And 2019 was already the year with the highest production figures since records were kept. A majority of these bikes made in Austria were produced by KTM Bikes. The company hires new employees, is building new halls and also – for the first time – introduces a two-shift-operation in their paint shop which became necessary to meet the demand.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

New KTM Bikes production hall in Mattighofen (OÖ)

Detailed bicycle sales figures for Austria will only the published later in April, the federation of sports equipment producers (VSSÖ) told Cycle Competence Austria. But it is almost certain that the increase in sales which was already seen over the last years will continue. Already at the end of May 2020, the VSSÖ noted: “The current developments in the Covid-19 crisis confirm the leading role the bicycle has as system-relevant and healthy means of transportation in addition to being sporting equipment.” The federation also reported a trend towards regional purchases in specialist shops. “The main reasons for this: quality, advice and service,” says the VSSÖ.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

The bike shops deserted during lockdown quickly sold out their stock in 2020.

The trend also showed on the second-hand platform Willhaben in 2020: Around 30 million searches for keywords relating to “bike” were recorded. In February 2021, 25% more bicycle adds were visible than in the previous February. The demand for children’s bicycles even increased threefold at the beginning of spring 2021 compared to 2020.

E-mobility as path forward

The Dutch also bought 1,1 million bicycles in the previous year. This figures is newsworthy as half of those were e-bikes. In general, the trade associations RAI Vereniging and Bovag registered an increase in bicycles sales of 9% compared to 2019. However, for e-bikes this increase shot up to 30%.

In Germany the two-wheel industry association (ZIV) reports a 17% increase in the number of sold bikes in 2020. Some warehouses were completely sold out. All kinds of bikes were in demand from leisure bikes to children’s bikes and from cargo bikes to e-bikes. According to the ZIV the number of sold e-bikes went up another 43.4% more in 2020 compared to the year before. Industry representatives estimated that in two years time every other bike will be an e-bike.

For Austria a similarly significant increase in e-supported bicycles can be expected – everything from mountain bike to cargo bike. The wholesaler Sport 2000 confirmed that one quarter of all bicycles sold in 2020 was equipped with an e-motor. This trend was also recognised by the climate-protection ministry (BMK): Also in 2021, subsidies of up to 1,000 euros are available for e-bikes and e-cargo bikes as well as cargobikes. Additionally, the VAT for bicycle repair services was lowered from 20 to 10% at the start of the year. Federal minister Leonore Gewessler said: “With the klimaaktiv mobile cycling initiative the federal government will invest up to 40 million euros again in 2021. It is a win-win situation: We are generating important momentum for a climate-friendly future mobility. And we are stimulating the regional economy with climate-protection investments.”

BMK KTM Bosch

Climate-protection minister Leonore Gewessler with Heidemarie Paul of Bosch eBike Systems Austria and Stefan Limbrunner, manging director of KTM Bikes

Pictures: www.vaude.com | pd-f, Luka Gorjup, Gadermeier, BMK, Starbike Wien

 

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COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

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Vater Kind am Rad

Over one year ago now, we saw the start of the Corona crisis. One of its most surprising results is the increase in cycle traffic and bicycle sales. No matter whether for every-day cycling trips or sportive activities – since last year, the bicycle has significants gained in popularity and importance. Cycle Competence members Bike Citizens, Fahrrad Wien and KTM Bikes confirm this trend which is very similar in other countries.

Surveys show: Resolution becomes reality

The limitations on every-day mobility decreed to curb the Covid pandemic have had massive impact. Already in spring last year, it was clear to many Austrians that walking and cycling will in future, even after the pandemic has abated, will gain much more in significance. In a survey the Verkehrsclub Österreich (VCÖ) has conducted online among 2,500 people at the start of April 2020, all of 26% said they wanted to cycle more. This resolution was shown to be put into action,  on the one hand, in the modal split in Vienna and, on the other hand, in another survey by the VCÖ: In November, this confirmed that 26% actually used the bicycle more often. Among the ways of mobility used more often than before only cycling and walking showed an increase: 26% said they cycled more, 18% cycled less.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

“Never before since the end of World War II the mobility behaviour has changed so much within a single year as it has because of the Covid-19 pandemic this year,” confirmed VCÖ-expert Michael Schwendinger. The answers to the VCÖ-survey reveal that after the pandemic has abated investments into sustainable mobility will have to be made:

VCÖ Grafik

Modal split in Vienna upended

Cycling and walking proved to be crisis-resistant in the pandemic year 2020. This was also shown in the survey on the choice of means of transport in the modal split 2020 published by the “Wiener Linien”: 46% of distances were covered by bicycle or by walking. The usage of public transport decreased considerably while cycling increased by 30%. Cycle Competence member Fahrrad Wien attributes this to home office, distance learning and lockdowns influencing the mobility behaviour of people in Vienna. Additionally, people’s activity radius got smaller.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

The report issued by “Wiener Linien” does not reveal by how much the overall distance travelled has decreased. Only this would prove whether the increase in percentage translates to a real growth in bicycle movement in absolute figures. However, real growth can clearly be seen at the counting stations in Vienna. In 2020, 12% more cyclists were counted than in the previous year. The biggest growth was seen in May (+45%) and September (+23%). The day with the highest number of cyclists ever counted was Tuesday, 30 June 2020 with 10,389 cyclists at Opernring.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

All details on the figures available here on Fahrrad Wien.

Budapest also saw a massive increase in cycle traffic. The Budapest traffic management BKK (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ) reported a 15% increase in 2020. The five public cycling counting stations reported 2,771,710 cyclists. That is the highest figures since the counting stations were installed in 2017. The winter cycling figures even increased by 61% in December 2020 compared to the previous year.

Data from the Bike Citizens app confirms upwards trend

According to cycle competence member Bike Citizens this development was also mirrored in the usage behaviour of their navigation app customers. “While the first lockdown led to a decrease in mobility all over Europe, the Bike Citizens App saw an increase in users over the following months,” says managing director Elisabeth Felberbauer. Additionally, the bike rides became longer. However, she noticed that the regular rides to the office as part of the Bike2Work campaigns, which were recorded via the Bike Citizens App, decreased in April and May.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

Usage development during lockdowns 2020

The Bike Citizens figures are based on a Europe-wide analysis including Germany, Austria, Hungary, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Netherlands, Spain and Italy. For Vienna in particular the data confirms that cycling increased in significance especially during the second and third lockdown: “The figures show that the bicycle remains the symbol for freedom even beyond the third lockdown,” the Bike Citizens team is convinced.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

Bicycle stores see high demand and supply bottlenecks

“We have never invested more,” says Stefan Limbrunner, managing director of Cycle Competence member KTM Bikes. Since last year, the company employs 15% more people in Mattighofen. 1000 bikes are assembled by day – compared to 800 prior to the pandemic. However, to supply the enormously increased demand for KTM bicycles   1,200 bikes per day would have to be assembled. But very often the problem are missing parts stuck in the supply chain affected by Corona. This is a fate that all bicycle producers and stores share.

“Never were more bikes sold in February than this year. The number will most likely go up to 450,000”, estimates Holger Schwarting, managing director at Sport 2000 in an interview with Austrian daily “Der Standard”. Already 2019 almost 420,000 bikes were sold in Austria. Of those, 170,000 were produced domestically. And 2019 was already the year with the highest production figures since records were kept. A majority of these bikes made in Austria were produced by KTM Bikes. The company hires new employees, is building new halls and also – for the first time – introduces a two-shift-operation in their paint shop which became necessary to meet the demand.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

New KTM Bikes production hall in Mattighofen (OÖ)

Detailed bicycle sales figures for Austria will only the published later in April, the federation of sports equipment producers (VSSÖ) told Cycle Competence Austria. But it is almost certain that the increase in sales which was already seen over the last years will continue. Already at the end of May 2020, the VSSÖ noted: “The current developments in the Covid-19 crisis confirm the leading role the bicycle has as system-relevant and healthy means of transportation in addition to being sporting equipment.” The federation also reported a trend towards regional purchases in specialist shops. “The main reasons for this: quality, advice and service,” says the VSSÖ.

COVID and mobility: Cycling brings freedom during the crisis

The bike shops deserted during lockdown quickly sold out their stock in 2020.

The trend also showed on the second-hand platform Willhaben in 2020: Around 30 million searches for keywords relating to “bike” were recorded. In February 2021, 25% more bicycle adds were visible than in the previous February. The demand for children’s bicycles even increased threefold at the beginning of spring 2021 compared to 2020.

E-mobility as path forward

The Dutch also bought 1,1 million bicycles in the previous year. This figures is newsworthy as half of those were e-bikes. In general, the trade associations RAI Vereniging and Bovag registered an increase in bicycles sales of 9% compared to 2019. However, for e-bikes this increase shot up to 30%.

In Germany the two-wheel industry association (ZIV) reports a 17% increase in the number of sold bikes in 2020. Some warehouses were completely sold out. All kinds of bikes were in demand from leisure bikes to children’s bikes and from cargo bikes to e-bikes. According to the ZIV the number of sold e-bikes went up another 43.4% more in 2020 compared to the year before. Industry representatives estimated that in two years time every other bike will be an e-bike.

For Austria a similarly significant increase in e-supported bicycles can be expected – everything from mountain bike to cargo bike. The wholesaler Sport 2000 confirmed that one quarter of all bicycles sold in 2020 was equipped with an e-motor. This trend was also recognised by the climate-protection ministry (BMK): Also in 2021, subsidies of up to 1,000 euros are available for e-bikes and e-cargo bikes as well as cargobikes. Additionally, the VAT for bicycle repair services was lowered from 20 to 10% at the start of the year. Federal minister Leonore Gewessler said: “With the klimaaktiv mobile cycling initiative the federal government will invest up to 40 million euros again in 2021. It is a win-win situation: We are generating important momentum for a climate-friendly future mobility. And we are stimulating the regional economy with climate-protection investments.”

BMK KTM Bosch

Climate-protection minister Leonore Gewessler with Heidemarie Paul of Bosch eBike Systems Austria and Stefan Limbrunner, manging director of KTM Bikes

Pictures: www.vaude.com | pd-f, Luka Gorjup, Gadermeier, BMK, Starbike Wien

 

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