The numbers don’t lie. We’re riding 5x more compared to early March. Why? And which countries lead the charge?
LAST UPDATED: May 11, 2020
How is the Corona pandemic changing motorcycle riding behaviour around the world? Here are the numbers! Are we riding more or are we riding less? I looked at the number of rides that were logged in Scenic over the last 3 months and found some interesting differences between countries.
Are we getting Corona numb?
Overall, we see quite a big riding increase in Europe and North America. I wonder, as time goes by while COVID-19 keeps spreading in some countries and distancing measures are being eased in others… are we getting numb of the news, even numb of the infected cases and death toll numbers? Do we see riding as a short ‘escape’ from this, an escape from reality? Or have we waited patiently only to go all out once riding bans are lifted?
My guess is yes to both!!!! Yes we see it as an escape and yes we’ll go out en mass once riding bans are lifted.
Riding is an escape for many, even in normal times. A short ride to clear your mind or a nice weekend trip to get away from daily life. A lot of riders see motorcycle riding, ironically, as a relatively safe hobby at the moment! And for those actually living in countries where riding was banned and now allowed again, it’s obvious that you’ve taken advantage of that to the fullest. Take Belgium for example!
The numbers show that overall, last weekend, 5x as many rides were logged compared to the beginning of March.
What do you think about that? Leave a comment below!
DISCLAIMER: No real conclusions can and should be made from the data and analyses presented here. First of all the data is limited: It’s based only on the number of rides logged in the Scenic app. Secondly, we can make out trends and take an educated guess at the reason for these trends, but these remain just that: guesses! Next to coronavirus, there are many other factors that affect people going out for a ride. Think of weather and long (public holiday) weekends for example.
All graphs show the percentage of rides logged in the Scenic app in a specific weekend, relative to the average number of rides of February weekends. So, the average number of rides in Feb weekends is considered 100%.
Around the weekend of 21-22 March Australia was in the early stages of its outbreak compared to countries in other continents. We don’t see a significant decline in the number of rides at that point. In fact we see an increase. Only in the weekends thereafter we see a decline. Hard to tell if this is due to coronavirus. Decreasing weather conditions could also have played a part.
Riding activity differs a lot per country in Europe. Overall, from the beginning of March we see a clear increase in the number of rides, due to start of season / improving weather, but in the March 21/22 weekend we see a clear drop (This is the weekend after the week where social distancing and even lockdown measures were sharply increased by various European countries). Spain, France and UK stay steady or even decrease after this weekend, while the other “germanic” countries increased their number of rides.
It’s very hard to miss Belgium’s peak last weekend. Almost 16x more rides compared to early march.
As a whole we see Europe’s number of rides increasing during the last 3 weekends, with Netherlands, Germany and now Belgium leading the charge. This might be due to people getting over the ‘first scare’, but most definitely will also be related to Dutch and German governments not having banned riding and Belgium government lifting the riding ban last weekend.
Quite an increase in Austria’s number of rides in the last weeks.
Belgium levelled off a bit due to the ban. Until last weekend, when the ban was lifted. The result is overwhelming!!!
Germany, just like the Netherlands below, has one of the strongest increases in number of rides in the last few weekends (not counting Belgium’s huge peak of last weekend). Between 8 and 9 times as much rides even. That’s quite a lot. I’m sure weather plays a role, but what kind of role does coronavirus play here? Would we see an even stronger increase without COVID-19? Or perhaps less increase?
Spain, being the European country 2nd most hit by COVID-19, has been running ahead of its fellow European countries with its containment measures. As such you can see this effect in the number of rides. In fact, since mid March, the number of rides has almost fallen to zero as Spain strengthened and maintains its lockdown procedures.
Switzerland is a bit more ‘neutral’ than Netherlands and Germany… still more than 4x as many logged rides in the last weekends compared to late feb. And last weekend we even saw an increase of almost 7x. Did Switzerland also ease its distancing measures? Please let me know through comments below.
United Kingdom shows an unexpected increase in the March 21 weekend, corrected by the following weekends showing a decreasing and steadying number of rides.
U.S. has shown a very modest increase in the number of rides over the past few weeks. This is likely due to coronavirus measures being offset by improving weather conditions. The May 2 weekend does show a significant increase. No doubt this has something to do with a bunch of states easing their lockdown measures on May 3rd.
Canada seemed to have an initial ‘scare’ around March 14, but has since then shown a rather big increase in the number of rides. Weather undoubtedly is playing a role here.
What does it all mean?
I do this analyses pure for informative purposes! It should not be taken as an input to define your behaviour regarding COVID-19. It does not add value compared to the primary data for number of cases and number of deaths. Please don’t take any action based on this analyses. I’m not a coronavirus expert at all!
If you must take action then take the safe route. Stay inside, distance yourself, rather sooner than later. The sooner you take action (even if your government doesn’t) the better! This thing is exponential. The earlier you take action the bigger the effect will be (this goes for positive as well as negative action)!!!
Furthermore I don’t know about all government policies in all countries regarding lockdown measures and moments when they were lifted or eased. If you have additional information regarding this please feel free to comment below.
Stay safe everyone!
I’ve taken a couple of rides since the lockdown in Southern California. Once on the Bike we don’t get off, we ride through the desert or country areas, take any pictures from the bike, fuel up wearing disposable gloves, and head home. It’s a nice break from the confines of home these days and much safer than going to the grocery store packed with people trying to find Sanitizer and Toilet Paper!
Ahh…. you have the selfish braindeads hoarding toilet paper to….. Scary to see just how easily humanity can plumit to animal behaviours……. Its like watching or reading “Animal Farm” all over again. Makes you loose a little faith in others….which is a shame…
Here in Australia the trend is to abandon organised rides however does this mean that individuals are taking the oportunity to do their own rides. Maybe. I must admit I do. Riding can be a very individual thing and avoiding other social contact is easy…..It can be just you and the road…… A great distraction from the problems of the world at this time and a way to improve your mental health…..
Having said that, I agree your sample while interesting, is much too small to be any sort of a reliable indicator as you have said… Many other factors come into play that can skew the numbers…. For example in Australia, January and early February were extreemley hot (38 – 45 deg C in Sydney) making riding to the point of dangerous… Then rain early this month and followed by several fantastic riding days in the last week as we get close to Autum (Fall for you people across the pond).
While is remains socially responsable to distance yourself from others while the disease threat continues, the benifits of individual riding to iradicate the risk of transmiting this disease will go a lot to mentally prepare many of us to overcome and recover from the damage created by this pandemic…….
Be well out there……
Walter Nolan…..Sydney, Australia
Here in Ohio we have been issued a shelter in place order. Only essential business remain open. There is only so much I can do around the hose, so it’s a great escape for me to get on my bike and ride around on the back roads and keep the recommended social distancing recommendations . I keep plenty of spare fuel at home and I carry extra fuel on my bike so I don’t have to stop for fuel.
God Bless and Stay Safe.
Be careful with that hose!
I have been riding, but at a different pace. While I have been willing to ride, I have not been able to get my normal riding buddies out on the road with me.
I never ride at a race pace, but I normally ride twisty roads and mountain roads at a fun pace. I have decided to slow down for the time being for two reasons: (1) I won’t have anyone to provide aid if I have an issue, and (2) I don’t want to go to a hospital right now, for any reason at all, due to potential virus exposure and hospital crowding.
In your European figures you have forgotten Italy, which is the third largest country in the continent. Why?
Scenic does not have enough data / not enough users to have a decent data set from which calculated guesses can be made.
April in Australia now and it has been outlawed to drive or ride anywhere that is not necessary. You risk fines of $1,000+ if it is deemed not necessart like going to work, doctors or to buy food….. so the imediate impact is significant….no leasure rides at all!!!….. This can be frustrating as I work in a high risk environment and sometimes need to unwind….others that are traped in their homes are turning to alcohol which is a very poor alternative…….
Looking forward to getting back into “mental health riding” as soon as possible……
Unfortunately here in New Zealand the government has banned all activities that may result in an accident which requires emergency services to respond thereby placing the responders at risk so motorcycle riding is out at least while the country is at level 4 lockdown. I suspect the pendulum will swing far in the other direction once the ban is lifted. It’s damn hard to take for now though. One thing though, I’ve planned some excellent rides using the Scenic app can’t wait to ride them.
I’m not a biker, but my 1997 Morgan +4 has been featured on your site as I use Scenic Navigator when we tour France on holidays.
Here in the UK, all non-essential journeys are banned…….. but we do here a lot of motorbikes racing up & down the nearby dual- carriageway — I doubt that they’re the type of riders that use Scenic!
Our national Morgan Sports Car Club has cancelled ALL planned meets & Runs.
Many of us also take the view ( like the rider in New Zealand -above) that, if you are out in your Morgan & (God forbid) you are in an accident, you are then going to use the Emergency Services and possibly Medics and Hospital staff, at a time when they ha e a major challenge on their hands!
For their sake, no matter how safe you think you are, stay at home:you may save a few lives!
Here in Virginia, roads are less crowded with “cagers” so riding is safer (generally) and more enjoyable. I especially like riding in the Blue Ridge Mtns and Skyline Drive…but have to be mindful of fuel levels, as many fuel/dining facilities are closed due to the virus. Still, the rides are much less stressful and more enjoyable. Great therapy for these challenging times 😀
I’ll briefly comment on the situation in Germany.
The federal government issued a “Kontaktsperre”, which roughly translates to “contact ban” and prohibits people from getting too close to each other and forming groups.
Due to the federal system, all states have to adopt this measure as a minimum requirement, but they can also implement more extreme measures. Most states adopted the contact ban without modification, but a few states like Bavaria, Saxony, and Berlin issued a rather strict curfew.
This means there probably aren’t many motorcycles on Bavarian roads these days – you are only allowed to ride your bike if you have a very good reason such as going shopping -, but you will see motorcycles everywhere in my state (North Rhine-Westphalia).
Hi guys, Guido (author) here. So, as I see it there are two reasons for governments mandating or ‘strongly suggesting’ you to stay inside. (1) To avoid further spreading Covid by contact and (2) to relieve stress on healthcare system by reducing motorcycle accidents (we all know that even a minor crash with a motorcycle can have far greater consequences compared to similar accident with a car). I was surprised to read the NZ actually has a special rule for motorcyclists. In most countries (correct me if I’m wrong) motorcycles are not mentioned as a separate vehicle with special ‘corona rules/laws’.
Here in Mexico nothing is banned so far, only strongly recommended. Certainly no special rules for motorcyclists. So, if I wanted to I could go out for a ride, but I don’t. I certainly understand the ones that do go out. It’s the perfect way to clear your mind from quarantine. I do have some testing to do for Scenic but I take the car for those tests.
Stay safe everyone!!!
Here in North Carolina of the USA we are under stay at home orders and only supposed to be out for essential needs. I’ve been reluctant to go for rides and the absence of motorcycles on the road is evident. I really must get in a short ride today! Fortunately the police are not actively seeking violators of the stay at home order. Spring is one of the best times to ride here and this really sucks.
From North Carolina here too. I keep on riding and ride in a group once a week. However we keep the group small with no more than 7 riders. I have passed many law enforcement vehicles who let us ride. The weather has been fabulous these days! It is indeed one of the best times of the year to hit the road here. But as mentioned above I do too slow my pace down significantly to reduce the risk if anything bad happening. Not a good time to be in the ER… So glad I can still ride. Riding keeps me sane!
By the way, very interesting to hear from riders across the world on their situations. Ride safe everyone! Shiny side up!
Indeed there are primo roads in North Carolina and due to the Covid, we (up norph in PA) we’re unable to visit Hendersonville as we do annually. What a shame. And now we see spikes in the Covid after some relaxation? Better watch out there, fellow riders. Stay safe.
Being a natural introvert, I’ve been social distancing since 1957. I’m also retired, so my daily life has changed very little. We even had an ample supply of toilet paper at the start of this since we buy it at Costco in rather large packages. The part of my life that has been severely restricted is motorcycling. I had a cross country trip planned for late April that has been suspended, and the annual “Tour of Honor” ride that starts April 1st has wisely been put on hold. I have taken several short rides to the store and a few 50 to 100 mile day rides around my area. No, I’m not risking stressing the medical system if I get hurt. I live in a rural area with very few covid cases and I don’t think any of them have been hospitalized. They have plenty of beds and staff to attempt to put me back together. Should we become the next epicenter of infections then I’ll stop riding. As a matter of fact, I won’t leave my house. (As long as the toilet paper holds out.)
Hey Jim, maybe we are just in next county over? Remote, very rural & riding pretty much as usual. Couple of hours every nice morning. Haven’t seen a traffic light in weeks. Never do. Crash? What EMT? Normal conditions for us. Coyotes & vultures will tidy up. C19 or not…;))
Lol, yes, our coyotes and vultures serve a very valuable service. They probably think covid is a new condiment.
I live in Northeast Florida in what is referred to as the Oldest City in America. By far it is not, but St Augustine is a beautiful place with terrific beaches. The problem is that it is overdeveloped and we have no mountains. Who thought of building such a place. Anyway for sanity and skill development I’ve ridden about everyday. A few rides I logged on Scenic. I know where I’m going (I was born and raised here) so I don’t need a map and many once good roads are now suburban highways. I still find a few places in the farm land that is still growing food instead of houses and ride for sanity and find a vacant church parking lot and practice skills. Gets me out and thinking about something besides the virus and my work which I am fortunately able to still do. I teach philosophy and there is no batter place to think of philosophical ideas than the back of my V-Strom.
I live in North Germany on a peninsula at the baltic sea. Due to beaches and landscape this is a tourist area in normal tiimes. Now it is restricted – only residentals are allowed to stay. Feels like we are being the last few surviviors on the planet. An unreal nightmare.
Bought a Honda CRF450L dual sports bike in January as my second bike for winter riding purpose. Since then I am in the woods and on the beaches nearly every day. This really helps not to become insane. Fresh air and lots of nature. No traffic on roads thats fun. But lots of animals – must take care and take it easy. No problem with that my racing days are over. I am really glad motorcycling is still allowed.
September 2019 my wife and me were on bike vacation with our Moto Guzzi California at Mandello del Lario, where Moto Guzzis are manufactored in a lovely old factory from 1920. Met nice people there at the yearly Open days event. As Lake Como and North Italy being beaten so terribly by the virus, my thoughts and best wishes are dedicated to the people of Italy these days.
Here in Cheshire, UK the restrictions have been fairly calm for the most part and the empty roads are a nice change on my trips to the grocery store. They didn’t actually say you had to take the shortest possible route… 🙂 My trips won’t make your stats though, logging a 15km trip seems silly but that’s better than nothing.
That said it seems like most riders are being sensible and staying under the radar, no groups to be seen. Many more police patrols on the road as well, keeping everyone in line hopefully!
Our thoughts are with those in deep lockdowns- hope everyone gets through this soon.
If motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than cars, and putting oneself at risk is also dangerous, due to the current limits on medical professionals to treat, compounded by the increased potential to get the Covid-19 virus in a hospital environment, the only smart conclusion is to stay home. On the other hand, if we were smart (at least according to safety minded individuals), we wouldn’t ride motorcycles in the first place. And, isn’t part of the thrill, the risk in the exercise?
As soon as my bike gets out of service, and the weather is decent, which will pretty much coincide around here, I’m going riding, and hedging all my bets on the side of faith, bolstered by the obvious in part by a lack of other traffic. That’s as logical as I can be?!
Just some observations and things that are not correct in the above article and comments.
In Belgium it is not allowed to go out on your motorbike for recreational purposes. Only for essential transport, which will be a very small number of people. I therefore found it very weird that Belgium had an increase in logged rides, while they are not allowed to ride…
The same more or less applies to Germany, allthough from the comments I understand that the measures depend on the state people live in.
COncerning the UK, I am not surprised by the peak in the Marcg 21 weekend, since everyone knew the containment measures would be increased after that. According to me also in the UK now only essential rides are allowed.
Other countries have been more liberal, like The Netherlands where I am from. Although we have been allowed to ride, I have parked my baby and left her there since March. Not as much to prevent the spread of the virus, but more to prevent of putting extra strain on the emergency services in case of an accident.
The number of ICU patients has been decreasing over the last week and the burden on our health system is slowly going down. Hopefully the weather holds (it has been SUPER the last 4 weeks), so that form this week I can start taking the bike out again….
First, stay safe. After that, ride safe.
We live in New South Wales, Australia (just outside Canberra). A local has been fined for riding his motorcycle in the last month. Basically around here, unless you are using your bike to commute to work, the police and local authorities have advised people not to ride to reduce impact on the healthcare system and also it goes against the stay at home policy (unless going out for essential business – work or groceries).
I am a sufferer or PTSD and related issues – motorcycling helps to keep me balanced. This has been very hard on myself and my fellow sufferers of PTSD and anxiety – for them, motorcycling really helps their mental health. My wellfare has taken and dive and I’m taking a 90% more medication to cope. My colleagues are in similar situations… hopefully they will reduce restrictions for motorcycles soon!
Yes, there is relaxation in Switzerland. The shops are open again this week and so are the restaurants. But not last week!
I suppose it’s because the authorities announced the relaxation two weeks ago.
Maybe I am also an exception and have been sent to work in Northern Germany on a motorcycle. So in four days almost 2000km came together. 🙂
Interesting read, I have been following your analysis on this. Any chance you can get a graph for Portugal? I’m guessing you don’t have enough raw data to build a decent one, but just asking. curiosity, really.
Keep up the good work!
Sorry Pedro, indeed not enough data on Portugal to get a more or less reliable number 😞
Hello. Switzerland has no general curfew. So people were always allowed to ride motorcycles. So it is to be explained that on those beautiful days many people were on the road with their motorbikes.