Public transport patronage data and counts along some of the city's most popular cycleways reveal a staggering shift in how Novocastrians have been moving around.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent government restrictions led to people abandoning public transport but cycling like never before.
Patronage on the public transport network dropped to record lows last month.
Only 14,000 passenger trips were recorded on the Hunter train line in April, down from 93,000 in the same month last year.
On the Sydney-commuter popular Central Coast and Newcastle line, there was a staggering 85 per cent drop in patronage. Only 223,000 trips were taken in April, compared to more than 1.53 million the year before.
Patronage on Newcastle Transport buses fell about 70 per cent from 371,000 trips last April to only 110,000 in the month this year.
Only 9028 people caught the Stockton ferry, down from 53,681 in April, 2019.
The city's light rail line suffered the most dramatic fall in patronage, dropping 94 per cent from 111,329 trips in April last year to only 6041 trips in the month this year.
However, the line was closed for 12 days during the month due to the CBD Hotel fire in Hunter Street and repairs to the tram tracks.
While public transport use has dropped off during the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of people cycling.
The Newcastle Herald recently reported how busy bike shops have been and counts conducted by transport consultant Ron Brown show a surge in activity on the city's cycleways.
Mr Brown said his survey of the Fernleigh Track showed the number of cyclists had more than doubled compared to a 2018 survey.
A counter near Park Avenue for a week in late April showed an average 1041 cyclists were using the Adamstown end of the track per day, up from 506 in 2018.
Mr Brown said the survey showed the number of early-morning cyclists had fallen, likely due to work-from-home arrangements, but there had been a 206 per cent increase in activity during the middle of the day.
It was a similar story at the shared harbourside path at Wickham, where an average 1325 cyclists rode past Newcastle marina per day - a 58 per cent increase on a pre-coronavirus count.
"These results show that in comparison with the road network where traffic flows have dropped by more than 50 per cent, cycleways have attracted increased activity even without the regular cyclists travelling to work and school," Mr Brown said.
New Lambton's Leigh Halley, 41, was out for his first ever ride on the Fernleigh Track this week on a bike he bought shortly before the virus hit Australia.
"I've had it for a few months but haven't really taken it out for a spin," he said on Wednesday.
"I've seen how many people have been out and about [cycling] and was like, 'why aren't I doing this?'. There's a crazy amount of people."
Mr Halley said he would like to start cycling to work and predicted "a percentage of people" who had been regularly riding during the pandemic would do the same.
"It's only a 15-minute drive and with the traffic it's about a 15-minute ride as well, so I may as well be riding," he said.
"People are creatures of habit and a lot will go back to their old ways once the restrictions are lifted .. but you'd like to think a certain percentage would change their mindset because they've created those new habits."
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