CHENNAI: There is a huge spike in the number of trips taken by leisure and fitness cyclists in the city this year, according to data collected by bicycle enthusiasts from the now popular Strava app.
While in 2019, 85,477 trips were taken, the number of trips in 2020 was 118,449, according to the data.
Strava is a fitness app that tracks your bicycle trails through your smartphone and helps share ride details with friends. It’s primarily used by leisure and fitness cyclists in the city.
Felix John, a member of an Amsterdam-based social enterprise that believes bicycles transform cities, applied for the data from Strava to look for bicycle patterns in Chennai. He found that when compared to 2019, the number of trips saw about a 38% increase this year.
The number was higher even when compared to 2018 and 2017 when 78,068 and 52,946 trips were taken in Chennai.
“This data is useful for us to see where more work needs to be done to improve bicycle infrastructure on city roads and also to check which routes are often used,” said Felix.
The graph showed that while the number of trips in Chennai started at about 11,000 in January this year, it was found to be around the 20,000 mark in August and September, following a steep dip during March and April when the lockdown was first announced. The number of people who registered and used the app also followed a similar curve.
“This data is largely for leisure cyclists. For livelihood cyclists, the only way to obtain data is by field survey,” said Felix.
The route from RK Salai to Nungambakkam was found to be among the busiest for cyclists, between 5 am to 7 am. As far as the demographics go, from 2017 until this year, those between the ages of 20 and 34 constitute the maximum users followed by those between the ages of 35 and 54.
On the other hand, the patronage for Chennai Smart City’s bike sharing was much higher last year when compared to this year, according to sources.
“Last year, on almost every Sunday, we hit 1000 and above rides. This year, after the lockdown, it is only last Sunday that we hit the ‘over 100’ mark. The main reason is that the public are sceptical about picking up and riding a public bicycle although they have no reason to fear as we are taking all safety measures,” said an official with Smart Bike.