Pedaling Past A Pandemic
During the COVID-19 outbreak, cycling has increased by 150% in countries such as China, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some governments are opening emergency bike lanes for essential workers and some schools are offering to cover the cost of bikes for teachers. Citizens who used to take public transportation or drive have now opted to bike. Citi Bike in New York City saw a 67% rise in demand in March, trails in Pennsylvania are getting a 470% increase in traffic compared to previous years, and cities such as Bogotá, Mexico City, NYC, Berlin, Denver, and Vancouver have implemented temporary bike lanes.
Biking is not only a mode of transportation; it can also be an incredibly important activity for your physical and mental well-being during this time. If you are practicing proper physical distancing and sanitizing your bike before you ride it, Dr. Michael Roshon, Chief Medical Officer for USA Cycling, states that biking is a low-risk activity during the pandemic.
When you think about the sustainability benefits of biking, you may think about the fact that bikes do not emit fossil fuels and are a pollution-free mode of transportation. But biking has considerably more benefits than this. Biking takes up less roadway than cars, providing opportunities for more roadside plant life and strips of plants in between lanes. If more people are riding bikes, then there will be less cars on the road, which makes it safer for children both walking and biking across streets. Finally, bikes do less damage to roads than cars do, which means the need for road construction is less frequent.
Once the pandemic passes, we need to make sure that we are still opting to bike when we can. Bike to school, work, and your local grocery stores. Purchase a bike! The cost of buying and maintaining a bike is a mere 1% of the cost of buying and maintaining a car. Teach your children to ride a bike! When more people bike and walk instead of drive, there are more social interactions which form tighter communities. If we all keep riding bicycles, the temporary bike paths that have been created will become permanent. Let’s all work to make biking a long-lasting ‘chain’ge as opposed to just taking a ‘brake’ from our normal lives.
Photos: sourced from unsplash