The role of neighbourhood design in cycling activity during COVID-19: an exploration of the Melbourne experience

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COVID-19 restrictions imposed significant changes on human mobility patterns, with some studies finding significant increases or decreases in cycling. However, to date there is little understanding on how the neighbourhood-level built environment influenced cycling behaviour during the COVID-19 restrictions. As different neighbourhood have different built environment characteristics, it is possible that cycling trends varied across different built environment settings. We aimed to answer this question by examining recreational cycling during different stages of lockdown in Melbourne, Australia. We compared self-reported recreational cycling frequency (weekly) data from 1344 respondents between pre-COVID and two different stages in lockdown. We tested whether the built environment of their residential neighbourhood and different sociodemographic characteristics influenced leisure cycling rates and whether the effect of these factors varied between different stages of COVID-19 restriction. We found that cycling declined significantly during the two stages of COVID-19 lockdown. Cycling infrastructure density and connectivity are two built environment factors that had a significant effect on limiting the decline in leisure cycling during the pandemic. Furthermore, men and younger people had higher cycling rates in comparison to other groups, suggesting that restrictions on indoor activities and travel limits were not enough to encourage women or older people to cycle more during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103510
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Age
  • Built environment
  • Connectivity
  • COVID-19
  • Cycling infrastructure
  • Equity
  • Gender
  • Mobility pattern
  • Recreational cycling
  • Socio-demographic characteristics

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