Many a bicyclist will tell you that they feel better after even a short trip on a bicycle. The NYC bicyclist below had not bicycled in years due to the congestion of New York City. People left the city, the cars disappeared, and masks appeared on the few outside. Streets became breathable. Exhaust and congestion disappeared from the horizon. During lockdown, she found emptier streets, and rediscovered how much she loved bicycling. She said, “It’s the quickest, most effective way to get good chemicals.”
Stir crazy? Yes — nature, the outdoors, and exercise is the quickest way to get good chemicals firing in one’s mind. You can also socially distance while being active with others around.
Cities are rethinking space and adding bicycle infrastructure on a continuous basis, and the coronavirus crisis presents an extra opportunity to reflect and take bolder action that some cities are seizing. Paris, Milan, and Brussels, for example, are trying to get closer to the ideal set by Groningen, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam in terms of mobility for two-wheelers.
— Mikael Colville-Andersen (@colvilleandersn) May 27, 2020
— Mikael Colville-Andersen (@colvilleandersn) May 23, 2020
More policies to prevent congestion and air pollution benefit everyone. For the reinvigorated bicyclists, it is about a better way of life. They get a refreshing new alternative to the repetitive turning of the crowded turnstiles of packed subways or jumping in an Uber or Lyft. Will city dwellers simply go back to the old ways? Not so fast. Exercise fires off the happy notes instead of the rush or inertia of shared indoor spaces. What growing numbers of city citizens want is more bicycle infrastructure to make this possible. Commuters are investing in bicycles. E-bike sales are up. Commuters are getting serious about bicycling.
— Tudor ALEXIS (@tudoralexis1) May 10, 2020
New York City, changed dramatically, is evolving. It’s a relief to not have exhaust blowing in one’s apartment window, hands clapping for health care workers instead. The Verge reports that 12 miles of roadways were opened to pedestrians and 9 more miles of protected bike lanes were added. “That was in addition to the nine miles of roads that have been closed to cars since early May. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is frequently criticized for his use of a city-owned SUV, has said his goal is for a total of 100 miles of open streets.”
We now have the first data out about changes in vehicular movement at the US national level in March. This is what happened ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/1vxSMF3G1I
— Yonah Freemark (@yfreemark) May 12, 2020
Bicyclists have always improved air quality. The break from congestion and clearing of city skies shows us that in new ways, along with hard data regarding the pandemic that just reinforces the point.
— Bike New York (@bikenewyork) May 27, 2020
A Choice for Commuting Post-Lockdown
Along with the revived bicycle travelers venturing out, inquiring more about bikeshares, bicycle paths, and better streets, electric bicycles are reportedly selling in higher volumes. An e-bicycle offers long-distance journeys with more energetic security and ease on the way home.
Bicycling is experiencing a renaissance. It is not simply about the recreation or leisure for more and more people. It is going to be a serious choice for commuting post-lockdown. Those of us who’ve enjoyed it pre-pandemic will tell you, it’s a wonderful way to travel.
I’m accustomed to electric bicycles. Here’s myth busting #1: Yes, you still get that cardio workout, that needed exercise. What you avoid, especially in the heat, is overextending yourself and overheating. You also get simple relief up the hills if you’ve packed your bicycle basket full and are carrying a backpack as well. (And it is the end of a long day.)
COVID is Pulling the Electric Bicycle Adoption Curve Forward
Planetizen reports, “North America has experienced a 5% jump in rates of cycling since the U.S. started staying home. As electric bikes enjoy impressive sales increases, cities around the world consider making the shift permanent by planning bike-friendly infrastructure.”
“Smart commuters are investing for the long term and going for e-bikes,” The Verge reports Gocycle founder Richard Thorpe as saying. “We have seen sales of our fast-folding Gocycle GX range rocket upwards within the last few weeks — literally at a rate 4x in urban areas compared with this time last year. COVID is pulling the adoption curve forward.”
Some cities were active and on top of policy and infrastructure for bicyclists long before COVID-19. Sadiq Khan has always been out front in his bicycle advocacy. CleanTechnica reported on his work in 2016, for example, in “London’s Mayor Announces 5-Year £770 Million Bicycling Investment.”
🚴♀️ So excited to see the new cycle lane going in on Park Lane last night.
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 14, 2020
Let’s hope cities stay strong. Some places made the necessary transition decades ago. Copenhagen (and Denmark in general) changed due to the energy crisis of the 1970s. They have a wealth of bicyclists that make the city and country a better place to live.
Here’s more on that Denmark history:
“The energy crisis of the 1970s and growing environmental awareness led to traffic switching from cars to bicycles and public transport and to an increasing demand for improved conditions for cyclists. An example of this was the annual cyclist demonstrations in the major cities from the late 1970s. Authorities and planners became aware of the problems which cyclists faced, and bicycle traffic began to form a greater part of traffic planning. From 1982 to 2001, every budget contained funds allocated to the construction of cycle paths and improvements of conditions for cyclists.”
USA, learn the lesson.
Even with great electric cars on the market, many of us choose and prefer an e-bicycle whenever possible. If you haven’t done so yet, give one a try!
More CleanTechnica favorites:
See our full electric bike archives for more.