THE owners of Helensburgh's only dedicated bike shop says news this week that the popularity of cycling is on the rise, locally and across the country, comes as no surprise.

Cycling Scotland revealed that Helensburgh is in the top 10 places to have seen a surge in the number of bikes on the road compared with the same time last year.

The quieter roads during the coronavirus lockdown, and the inclusion of cycling in the list of permitted forms of exercise, are thought to be the main reasons behind cycling becoming more popular.

Helensburgh saw a 16 per cent increase in the number of bikes measured by Cycling Scotland's automatic cycle counter in the area.

READ MORE: Helensburgh's in the top 10 as survey finds more Scots are turning to cycling

And while that pales in comparison to other towns at the leading edge of the 'top 10' – Dundee (94 per cent), Newton Mearns (121 per cent) and Dunfermline (215 per cent) – Kirsteen Hutcheson, who runs Helensburgh Cycles with her dad Alex McNee, says she's still pleased at the town's performance.

The family-owned West Clyde Street business remains open for repairs and essential parts and for collection of orders placed online, though in line with social distancing rules, the shop is unable to acccommodate browsers.

Kirsteen told the Advertiser: “We’re happy to still be open. Even in this pandemic the bills still need to be paid.

“We have been busy with repairs, which we always are, but whenever there is a good spell of weather the workshop does tend to get busier and we’ve sold some new bikes since the lockdown started too.

“I think everyone is trying to make the most of their daily exercise allowance – and with the roads being quiet, cycling is definitely appealing to more people.

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“We think it’s great to see more people out on bikes. It’s a good way to clear your head, and we’re so lucky in our location to have so many beautiful routes.”

Keith Irving, the chief executive of Cycling Scotland, said: “Many people are rediscovering cycling during lockdown, for exercise or essential journeys.

“I hope people continue to cycle when we emerge from this crisis and carry on benefitting from the massive positive impact cycling has on our physical and mental health.

“We would strongly urge anyone getting out on their bike to follow current public health advice, especially on social distancing and hygiene.

“It’s also more important than ever to obey the speed limit, drive to the conditions and give space to people cycling or walking, when driving.”

READ MORE: Catch up with all the news headlines from across Helensburgh and Lomond here