Record number of people use Nickey Line for exercise during lockdown

The Nickey Line, Harpenden.

The Nickey Line, Harpenden. - Credit: Archant

A popular walking route saw record numbers of users during the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Nickey Line. Picture: Danny Loo.

The Nickey Line. Picture: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

The Nickey Line is a former railway line which linked Hemel Hempstead, Redbourn and Harpenden and is now a footpath and cycleway, forming part of the National Cycle Network, stretching for approximately seven miles.

Friends of the Nickey Line, who formed in 2006 to encourage use of the route by local people and visitors from further afield, carried out a usage survey in May to measure the high number of users during the lockdown.

More than 50 volunteers reported counts for their section of the Line, from 7am to 9pm daily for more than two weeks, after sample counts in late April and early May suggested there were much higher numbers of users than normal.

They found daily usage over the individual Redbourn to Hemel Hempstead sections was about 350 uses per day and over 1,000 uses per day for the Harpenden sections.

After adjusting for statistical factors such as single way and two way use and long distance users possibly being counted twice in different parts of the Line, the estimate of average daily lockdown use across the Nickey Line was 1,740 individual uses and the weekly figure was 12,180 uses.

The overall weekly usage was almost three times the previous count of 4,100 normal uses for the Harpenden section in July 2013.

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Friends of the Nickey Line chairman Dave Abernethy said: “We are very grateful for our volunteers’ time and diligence. They made the survey possible despite the restrictions and challenges we all faced in the lockdown period.

“The weekly count of 12,000 uses was almost three times the previous record count from July 2013 and reflects greater use by local people from all the Line’s three major communities of Hemel Hempstead, Redbourn and Harpenden.

“The Nickey Line has been a major local amenity for exercise and relaxation from the challenges we all faced during lockdown.”