VELO CYCLES BIKE COUNTER UPDATE – Oct 2021

Welcome to Spring and an update of how our bike counter numbers are tracking for 2021.

Someone must have asked the question, “how low can you go?” because the trend this year would make a professional limbo dancer envious. July 2021 had the lowest monthly rider total we’ve recorded since the tracker was installed in November 2013. #MelbourneLockdown5 likely contributed to some of that but overall, 2021 will be our lowest yearly total on record, as the graph below shows:

The above table compares the last four years of monthly bike totals – 2018, our best on record (in purple at the rear) through to 2021(in blue at the front) which is turning out to have the fewest number of riders past the counter. 

Assuming rider numbers will trend up this October and November – unless everyone skidaddles out of Melbourne as soon as lockdown rules are relaxed – we estimate that the total for this year will likely fall around the 800k-850k mark. In comparison the yearly totals for the three previous years have been:

  • 2018 = 1,131,435
  • 2019 = 1,099,944
  • 2020 = 902,953

Why are numbers this year particular low? When you look at the totals month by month, this year isn’t so different to 2020. 

February and March 2020: Oblivious to what was about to hit us, we notched up the second best February on record (woo!). March's total was a bit average with Lockdown concerns creeping towards the end of the month. February 2021: Our tradition peak summer month! Was it the effect of Lockdown 3 (12-17 February) on commuter numbers? Or were people still away on holiday after a shocking 2020?
June 2020: We had survived our first lockdown! Our staged release from lockdown likely played a role in numbers not bouncing back as high as usual. June 2021: Lockdown 4 was 14 days. More people are working from home this year, or are out of work.
July-Oct 2020: Lockdown 2 lasted a mind-numbing 111 days (8 Jul - 27 Oct). August was particularly low as we grappled with working and schooling from home again with no clear end in sight. July-Oct 2021: Lockdowns 5 & 6 where our concerns around the NSW outbreak spreading came true. Covid fatigue has well and truely set in; suburban streets are not the quiet and 'safe' places for walking and riding they felt last year.

Will we see rider numbers take off again soon? We certainly hope so. Rider numbers typically lift as people shake off their winter (and Covid?) blues and get the bike out again. Some will take up riding for the first time in years, encouraged by friends, family and an increase in bicycle infrastructure. The pop-up bike lanes Vic Roads has rolled out in a number of local council areas has helped connect existing routes, provide people with a transport choice that is affordable, healthy, sustainable and feel so much safer than before. (Read more here)

Another, and perhaps the strongest, influencing factor will be businesses reopening in the city. We know that bike commuters going into the city make up a fair percentage of the weekday riders. If we look at July, the month with the fewest riders past the counter, and pick the last Thursday in the month for our example weekday, we can see the very strong morning and afternoon peak commuting periods  has become less distinct, and middle of the day numbers are higher through the day compared to pre-lockdown times. (Click a graph to enlarge.)

Please note the scale of the above graphs does not show at first glance the disparity between the rider numbers each year. The daily totals for the three dates highlighted above are:

   25 July 2019 = 3,261

   30 July 2020 = 2,135

   29 July 2021 = 2,439

The next date of particular interest will be National Ride2Work Day on Wednesday 10 November. Please note this date in your diary and encourage colleagues to join you in riding to work! If you’re still working from home, why not get out and enjoy a ride at some time during the day to get the body and mind functioning at their best! 

Don’t forget to follow us on the socials to keep up to date with our changing opening hours as we emerge from lockdown. We can’t wait to invite you back into our store soon!

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