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April 1, 2020  

Bicycles Shine During a Pandemic

April 1, 2020

The coronavirus has upended life as we know it. Without minimizing the grief, fear, and uncertainty that has gripped the entire world all at once, the pandemic has also revealed things that were always true but were frequently obscured...or ignored.

Case in point: Bikes are an outstanding way to move around, get exercise, see your town, spend time with friends, reduce pollution, and build the economic resilience of your community. Yet we’ve built our cities in such a way that biking is not only impractical and inconvenient, but often a dangerous nightmare.

What’s happened during the coronavirus crisis is that, on many roads, the proportion of cars to people has flipped. More people are out walking and biking. Some towns and cities are even rushing to adapt existing car-centric infrastructure so pedestrians and cyclists can move around while still observing social distancing guidelines.

In a recent CityLab article, “In a Global Health Emergency, the Bicycle Shines,” Laura Laker describes how cycling rates are skyrocketing around the world, and how cities are responding.

Many experts view cycling as a safe way to avoid crowded public transportation systems — and the citizens in a number of world cities appear to agree. In New York, cycling spiked by 52% over the city’s bridges after social-distancing protocols were put in place. In Chicago, bikeshare use doubled in early March. In Dublin and London, advocates are offering support to new riders who are taking to the streets in droves.

In this week’s episode of Upzoned. Host Abby Kinney, a planner at Gould Evans in Kansas City, and Strong Towns senior editor Daniel Herriges discuss the CityLab article and what the pandemic reminds us about the benefits of cycling, in both good times and bad. What if we could shed our assumptions that streets are for cars? What opportunities do we have to improve bike infrastructure, benefiting folks now but also long into the future?

Then in the Downzone, Daniel talks about how he and his wife are using the quarantine to reconnect with an eclectic mix of friends and family. And Abby and Daniel both discuss a bizarre a documentary series on Netflix that the whole country seems to be watching. You know the one.

Additional Show Notes: