September 23, 2020

Active travel booms by 162% in the UK as city travel transforms due to the effects of COVID-19

-New data insights released as Strava announces Strava Metro – the largest active dataset on the planet – is now free and available to cities everywhere
-Strava is providing cities with crucial mobility insights, including COVID-19’s impact on active transportation, to enable smarter urban planning and infrastructure decisions
-Today’s findings reveal Liverpool tops the UK’s active travel cities with a 220% year-on-year rise in uptake

London, 23 September 2020 – Strava, the leading platform for athletes and the world’s biggest sports community with over 68 million athletes, today announced that Strava Metro, the largest active travel dataset on the planet, is now available and free of charge for urban planners, city governments and safe infrastructure advocates.


The Metro data reveals a major boom in the demand for active travel across the UK with a 162.3% year-over-year overall increase in individuals cycling. This underlines a clear shift in the way people are travelling within cities around the country.


The analysis compares the overall number of people travelling by bike in May 2020 with the same period in 2019. Liverpool tops the list with a year-over-year rise of over 220% for people taking at least one trip by bike, followed by Manchester at 169% and Glasgow with a 146% increase. London ranks fifth with an overall rise of 119%.


As cities around the world are grappling with the effects of COVID-19 on transportation, Strava Metro now provides cities with free access to active travel insights to enable smarter urban planning and infrastructure decisions.


Strava Metro has analysed the YoY increases in people travelling by bike between May 2019 and May 2020, showing the rise in demand for active travel across major metropolitan areas in the UK. The top 10 cities rank as follows:

  1. Liverpool – 222.04%
  2. Manchester – 169.73%
  3. Glasgow – 146.24%
  4. Birmingham – 134.59%
  5. London – 119.38%
  6. Newcastle – 115.38%
  7. Belfast – 107.11%
  8. Cardiff – 95.84%
  9. Bristol – 85.84%
  10. Sheffield – 78.46%


With over a 100% increase in seven out of the ten cities spanning across multiple regions and countries, the data shows a clear nationwide rise in cycling, and a significant increase in focus on active travel.


The data also revealed that May 2020 represented the peak of the YoY growth trajectory for all the listed cities, coinciding with height of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The relative lack of motorised vehicles on the road at this time also likely contributed to people’s feelings of safety and security, a key barrier affecting cycling uptake. 


The numbers for each individual city and the combined national picture indicate a clear rise in adoption of cycling as a core mode of transportation in Britain’s major metropolitan centres.


Strava Metro has been built to help urban planners and city governments better understand these mobility patterns, identify opportunities for investment and evaluate the impact of infrastructure changes. Data-driven solutions give cities the opportunity to remap their landscape by putting people front and centre, and meet the demand the figures are revealing across the country. 


There is an opportunity to turn this active travel trend seen across the UK from a lockdown spike into a long-term solution for the country, and create a more sustainable and healthier future.


According to the ONS, the proportion of Britain’s working adults once again commuting to their place of work has steadily risen for the last two months, reaching 57% at the start of September. As an increasing number of people return to regular commuting, cycling trends from the lockdown period should be informing city planning, ensuring that active travel is supported and encouraged into the future.


Mark Gainey, Co-founder and Chairman of Strava, commented: “We always believed there were special ways in which the Strava community could contribute to the world at-large. Strava Metro was one such way. And given the growing need for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, we felt Strava Metro was too valuable and important not to make available to any organization attempting to make a difference in designing the cities of the future.” 


Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has transformed how Londoners think about travel, and we’ve been working to make cycling easier and safer for all, to help avoid a damaging car-led recovery and make sure the improvements in air quality made in lockdown are not lost. Strava Metro has played an important part in improving how we understand and plan for cycling in London, and highlights the shift towards sustainable modes of transport. By making this data freely available, cities can use it to plan improvements that will enable more people to walk, cycle and stay active.”


Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “During lockdown, roads were quieter and people felt safer so we saw a real surge in the number of people cycling and walking their journeys. Now we need to enable them to continue to travel on foot and by bike, making it part of their everyday routine.


“The data we receive from Strava Metro is helping us to get a greater insight into where, when and why people are cycling and walking. This sort of data is invaluable when making decisions about developing future infrastructure.”


Since Strava Metro’s inception in 2014, partners have paid an annual fee for access to the aggregated, de-identified datasets. Last year, Strava released Metroview, an updated, intuitive map-based web interface providing partners with easier access to insights. Now, by making Strava Metro free to organizations that share its mission to make cities better for cyclists and pedestrians, Strava hopes to power smarter and more sustainable design of the world’s cities and to give back to the communities that support millions of athletes around the world. 


If you, or the organization you work for, believe in human-powered transport and think you can make an impact, apply to use Strava Metro for free now




Notes to editors


Press contact

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About Strava Metro

The Strava dataset is the largest collection of human-powered transport information in the world. Metro aggregates, de-identifies and contextualizes this dataset to help make cities better for anyone on foot or on a bike.

We work with urban planners, city governments and safe-infrastructure advocates to understand mobility patterns, identify opportunities for investment and evaluate the impact of infrastructure changes – all completely free of charge. Let’s make human-powered travel safe, accessible and efficient for everyone. Learn more at

About Strava

Strava is the leading platform for athletes and the biggest sports community in the world, with over 68 million athletes in 195 countries. If you sweat you’re an athlete, and Strava’s mobile apps and website connect millions of active people every day. Strava gives athletes simple, fun ways to stay motivated and compete against themselves and others without having to be in the same place at the same time. All athletes belong on Strava no matter where they live, which sport they love or what device they use. Join the community and make the most of your sport with a Strava subscription


Our favorite stats:

  • More than four billion activities have been shared on Strava
  • Athletes in every country on earth 
  • More than 2 million new athletes join every month
  • Over 19 million Segments
  • 180 employees, most in San Francisco with more in Denver, CO, Hanover, NH and Bristol, UK
  • 1,100+ professional athletes are on Strava
  • 4.9 billion Kudos given between athletes last year
  • Over 4 million photos shared per week
  • 300+ communities making active travel better with Strava Metro