Cycling coronavirus
Bikes lead the way through crisis

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop around the globe, many cities are turning to the trusty bicycle to help them navigate the unprecedented challenge to global health.

New York City, USA

Now considered the epicenter of the virus in the United States, New York saw massive increases in bike riding numbers as officials urged people to swap public transport for biking or walking to reduce the spread of the virus.

In response, the city has created “temporary protected bike lanes” to provide people with safe places to ride.

The city created a temporary protected bike lane on First Avenue during the UNGA, sending cyclists through the left side of the tunnel between 40th and 49th streets. Concept image: DOT.

Brooklyn-based TV producer and bike advocate Doug Gordon believes the city will witness the “biggest surge in cycling ever” and that “temporary bike lanes must be made permanent” for the benefit of the city moving forward.

Read more: Virus shutdown could open up streets

Bogotá, Colombia

The Colombian capital has opened over 76 kilometres of temporary bike lanes to reduce crowding on public transport and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

A statement from the Mayor’s Office said: "The bicycle, being an individual means of transport, represents one of the most hygienic alternatives for the prevention of the virus, especially in this first preventive stage in which it is recommended to avoid close contact and crowds."

Read more: Bogotá expands bike lanes to curb coronavirus spread

Mexico City, Mexico

Following Bogotá’s lead, Mexico City released plans this week to set-up temporary bike paths all around the city as a way of promoting a transportation method that adheres to the social distancing recommendations of the World Health Organization.

The image shows the proposed new bike paths for Mexico City as green lines, and existing paths as purple lines. That’s a lot of new bike paths!

Experts supporting bike riding

Earlier in the week, the chief executive of British Cycling, Julie Harrington, wrote to the health secretary, Matt Hancock, urging ministers to add cycling to their list of recommended activities during the outbreak.

This comes after a group of 50 academic experts on public health and transport wrote an open letter to the UK government urging ministers not to discourage walking and cycling amid the pandemic.

The letter stresses that “all of our existing social and health risks do not simply go away” and points out that lack of exercise during times of isolation will add devastating long-term health consequences associated with people living inactive and sedentary lives.

Read our #KeepYourCommute article to see how we’re encouraging people to remain active during lockdown

At Bicycle Network, we’re trying to gather as much information as possible on how people are getting around during the time of COVID-19 to help Australian cities adapt appropriately to the crisis.

Please help us out by taking our short survey here.

Obviously this is a rapidly developing situation in Australia, but with noticeably less cars on the road and essential services still oeprating, do you think our cities could embrace a similar approach to these cities and open up more spaces for riders? This could be an opportunity to rethink the way we use our streets.

Feature image courtesy of The New York Times

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