New study finds improvements to bicycling infrastructure spurred ridership boom during COVID-19 pandemic
This week, Virginians and others nationwide will celebrate Bike to Work Week from May 17-21. Virginia Tech urban transportation expert Ralph Buehler says that if anything good came out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that communities redesigned streets for the use of cyclists, pedestrians, and outdoor socializing, which has encouraged more bicycling on the roads.
“We saw a bicycling boom during COVID. It is now up to our communities to implement policies to keep cycling levels high and encourage more people to ride bikes,” says Buehler.
Buehler’s new research findings look at the COVID-19 impacts on cycling, which show that bicycling and bike sales have increased considerably in European countries, the U.S., and Canada during the pandemic.
Buehler says this in part is due to cities successfully accommodating the increasing demand by building pop-up bike lanes, and closing streets to car traffic. “This shows us that we can use street space for things other than cars. This new use is healthier, more pleasurable, more cost effective, and more sustainable."
"Separate bikeway infrastructure that protects cyclists from fast moving and high levels of motorized traffic are key to get more people to ride bikes," says Buehler.
“It seems likely that cycling levels will remain higher in the coming years due to new infrastructure, new habits, and exposure of new groups to cycling.”
Ralph Buehler is a professor of urban affairs and planning in the School of International and Public Affairs at Virginia Tech in the greater Washington, D.C. metro region. His research areas focus on understanding individual travel behavior and the sustainability of transport systems in urban areas. His is also the co-editor of the books Cycling for Sustainable Cities and City Cycling.
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