COVID boosts biking enthusiasm and infrastructure all over the world
“Name a crisis and the bicycle is probably a good solution,” he said, listing off the problems that a bike solves: climate change, obesity, expensive gas prices and crowded germ-filled public transport.Dave Snyder, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition talking to the Associated Press.
Bikes are shifting into high gear all over the world. Thanks to a desire to avoid packed transit and a need to move, people are taking to streets and trails on two wheels (or three!). Cities are expanding cycling infrastructure to grow the grid, and to connect districts and suburbs. Municipalities are designating important arterial streets to help essential workers get to their jobs. It’s a bicycle boomlet, just as the weather warms up to accommodate such furious interest. Some are even worried about a bicycle shortage.
Beyond the increased need for open-air transit in the age of COVID, cycling pays all sorts of dividends, from boosting health and mood, to supporting local businesses. It’s hard not to be happy on a bike. Wall Street Journalist columnist Jason Gay speaks to the joy a bike ride can bring: I’m not saying everyone’s got to ride—though you should probably try it once this year, to remind yourself how much you loved it as a kid, and how much you can love as an adult. You don’t have to fly off the handle. You don’t have to shave your legs and start wearing clothes that make you look like a polyester kaleidoscope.
That joy extends to the local economy, where a growing body of studies show that merchants see a rise in commerce when bike lanes are created. The mental health benefits of cycling are equally evident.
PEDAL FOR THE PLANET
Biking is also key to reducing our emissions, and helping in the fight against climate change. No less an authority than the IPCC says active transportation (i.e. walking and cycling) are essential in helping us lower our emissions. Even for those who must commute by car, cycling for local trips is a boon for the planet.
One of the key elements to getting people on their bikes is providing safe cycling infrastructure. This means separated bike lanes, and a well-connected grid. Both of these things are getting a boost from COVID, as cities all over the world pivot their roadways to become more cycle-friendly. Even Toronto’s city council has just approved a rapid expansion of its cycling network.
RIDE OR DIE?
Will all this cycling continue post-COVID? Brian Pincott, executive director of Vélo Canada Bikes, tells the CBC he thinks it depends on whether governments make it safer and easier to ride.
“It’s impossible not to be happy when you’re getting around on your bike,” he said. “And God knows we need a little bit of happiness.”
Are you riding more? And will you continue to ride after the pandemic ends?
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