Citadele Bank (Latvia)

Baltic Survey: One in Three Plan to Cycle More This Summer

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  • As the weather improves, 32% of Latvians plan to cycle more
  • In Lithuania and Estonia, 37% and 41% respectively plan to cycle regularly
  • 2020 was a record year for bicycle theft in Latvia
  • Only 2% of Latvians surveyed have insured their bicycle, but 9% have considered it

Although less than in neighbouring countries, many Latvians—42%—hope to change their habits and get around by bicycle or other active methods of transport as the summer approaches, according to a Baltic-wide survey by Citadele Bank and Norstat research agency. At the same time, the State Police recorded a record number of bicycle thefts last year, although Latvians think rarely about bicycle insurance, with only 2% of those surveyed having a policy.   

43% of Latvians surveyed state that they want to change their habits as the weather warms up, of which 32% state that they wish to cycle more, while 11% plan on using other methods of transport such as electric scooters.

Among the Baltic states, Estonians (55%) are more likely to change their method of transport, 41% of which plan to cycle more, while the figure is 48% in Lithuania, 37% of which plan to cycle more.

36% of Latvians, 37% of Lithuanians and 28% of Estonians have no plans to change how they travel, and this answer was most frequently given by those aged 60 and over.

“Bicycles have always been a favourite mode of transport and free time activity for a fairly wide spectrum of society, but the impact of COVID-19 on people’s daily lives and transport options has strengthened the case for cycling. The pandemic has changed habits for both everyday travel and vacations, with people increasingly likely to cycle in everyday life and on domestic holidays. Unfortunately, as the number of cyclists increases, so has the number of thefts. In response to these changes and limited travel options, the additional bicycle insurance introduced to Citadele’s payment cards has been useful both in cases of road accidents and bicycle theft,” explains Citadele Board Member Rūta Ežerskiene.

Bicycle incidents are rarely insured

Latvians are the most likely to consider bicycle insurance, according to the Baltic-wide survey. Almost one in ten cyclists have considered bicycle insurance against accidents and theft, while those most likely to have a cycle policy are Latvians aged between 40 and 49. Meanwhile, just 7% and 6% percent of Lithuanians and Estonians respectively have considered cycle insurance.

Since 2018, 6,517 bicycle thefts have been registered with the police. Thieves were most active in 2020, which saw 2,678 bicycle thefts, which is up 66% compared with the previous year. The start of 2021 has seen a continuation of these unpleasant statistics: 89 thefts were registered this January, which is a record for the same month in the past four years, according to the State Police.

“As the weather becomes dry and sunny, cyclists are becoming more active. To avoid unpleasant surprises and theft, the police reminds cyclists to ensure they have thought about security by registering their bike, which is a significant help to the police in returning a lost or stolen bicycle to its owner. Furthermore, you should not only lock your bike, but do it correctly, with a strong, secure lock and in a secure location by locking both the wheel and the frame. If, however, your bike has been stolen, we remind you that the police should be notified immediately by calling 110,” adds Andis Rinkevics, Head of Prevention Management at the Latvian State Police.

The most active time for bicycle thieves

Statistics show that bicycle thieves are most active between May and September, when an average of 240-305 bicycles are stolen each month throughout the country. Over the past three years, thefts peaked in June 2020 when the police recorded 370 thefts.

A survey of changes in the transportation habits of people in the Baltic states was undertaken by Norstat, who surveyed 1,004 respondents in Latvia, 1,000 in Lithuania and 1,000 in Estonia. Respondents were aged between 18 and 74, and the sample was representative.