Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive
A spike in biking has led some cities to close streets to vehicular traffic. At the pandemic’s end, cycling advocates hope they will have effected real change.
Social distancing appears to have sparked an explosion in cycling as city residents seek alternative transportation modes to stay mobile and active.
Now, city leaders are exploring plans to make cycling safer in the short term, and maintain interest in the activity once the new coronavirus (COVID-19) subsides.
Cities including Philadelphia and Washington, DC have closed streets to vehicular traffic, a move advocates say should be retained once the worst of the pandemic is over. Meanwhile, in a global first, New Zealand is funding cities’ “pop-up” bike lanes and sidewalk widening projects, which is a “no brainer” solution for any city hoping to encourage cycling and repurpose streets during the pandemic, architect Vishaan Chakrabarti recently told Smart Cities Dive.
Advocates have pondered if similar infrastructure projects — or even more permanent solutions to reimagine mobility infrastructure — could be implemented to keep the uptick in cycling ridership. This presents challenges, however, as cities grapple with limited budgets and uncertainty regarding recovery.
But as summer approaches, the cycling craze will only persist. “People are biking, and people are stir-crazy,” Greg Billing, executive director at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), told Smart Cities Dive.