The COVID-19 Pandemic changed the world last year, and brought on incalculable tragedy — from the world’s forced lockdowns, however, some positive behavior modifications emerged across the world and United States.
According to this piece by People For Bikes, by April 2020, just a month after lockdowns wept the nation, over 200 cities in the U.S. changed the layouts of their streets by eliminating through traffic. Such an act would have been a major controversy in the pre-COVID days of daily traffic jams, and car-induced smogs hovering above cities indefinitely. Once everyone stopped driving, cities needed ways to get them outside in healthy, spaced out ways.
Forced away from the gym and into the living room, active people everywhere needed ways to get out. That same People For Bikes piece references a report by the new Business Intelligence Hub that estimates 9% of American adults rode a bike for the first time shortly after the study’s publication. It also states that 36% of riders took their children out for their first bike ride ever last spring.
Check out our guide for safely riding a cargo bike
What To Do With This Blossoming Infrastructure
Now, nearing a year later, metropolitan areas throughout the country are asking themselves how they will reopen, and what to do with added bike lanes, pedestrian streets, and all of the other networks built over the last year to make travel easier for cyclists.
Advocates for the sustainable, health-forward makeup of riding bikes instead of cars see this is an ideal time to change the status quo, and finally make the U.S. more friendly to the cyclist. Pop-up bike networks in places like Paris and Berlin have been sourced as inspiration in pieces like the one from People For Bikes, and for advocates elsewhere.
Welcoming a world that’s built to better ensure the safety and rideability of its emissions-free bike riders is especially popular in cities like Los Angeles, where just .6% of street lanes are for bikes, which is a stark contrast to a city like Portland, which allots upwards of 6% of its street lanes for bikes.
Looking to Europe, the capacity to ride safely and without worry expands tenfold. It’s safe to say that taking the example of cities who prioritize bike lanes and gas-free travel will help cities across America discover methods for getting children back to school safely, getting workers back to the office safely, and returning to regular life with a less-environmentally harmful status quo than we had going into the pandemic.
To look at a few more specifics as to why the more children who go back to school without buses, and the more adults who go back to the office without a car, the better it will be for our public health, cumulative impact on global warming, and personal health.
Going Back To School Without Buses
With a fascinating insight, the People For Bikes story references a metric that throughout the pandemic the Poudre Valley School District in Fort Collins could only operate at about 10% its normal capacity. These limitations are an ongoing struggle for this district, as well as similar school systems across the country. As society acclimates in stages to a world post COVID, it can take proactive steps to reintegrate safely and fastly.
To respond to its limitations, the city of Fort Collins enhanced its 200-mile, low-stress bicycle network with new wayfinding systems, maps, and tools to help travelers find their way to school safely. People For Bikes points this out to exemplify how American cities possess the intelligence and infrastructure capabilities to make cycling safer and more accessible when people need it the most.
Discovering New Ways To Get To Work
The piece goes on to tell a similar story that took place this past year in Austin, Texas, which has proven to be a massive help to professional commuters. The city’s employment center and City Council temporarily approved protected bike lanes along its most popular and frequented street — Congress Avenue. A huge hit, the bike lanes were installed without affecting parking, and without blocking access to local businesses. It’s been such a success, that there’s talk of making them permanent, even past the social distancing days.
How To Keep Streets Safe & Keep Families Riding
There are two things that need to happen to make these municipal improvement trends in place, the first is that people need to keep cycling. In addition to riding alone on a two-wheel bike, families can start looking into more versatile options — such as a three-wheel family cargo bike. The Ferla Family collection features two premier models that offer emissions-free cycling options for families who want to travel together in style and comfort.
In addition to families taking the time to integrate themselves into the cycling community, governments and politicians need to continue to make strides towards keeping streets safe. Another enlightening insight from the People For Bikes piece looks at the Slow Streets Program, which was a pilot venture in Tucson, Arizona to temporarily close some streets to all but local traffic during the pandemic.
Now that the city is opening back up, residents have requested that the street closures become permanent, and it’s inspired the Tucson Mayor and City Council to approve a $1.4 million commitment in Federal Cares Act funding to expand the Slow Streets Program. Some of the moves that have been included in the effort include repair of sidewalks, new crosswalks, and bike-lane additions.
For riders around the country, when their city makes cycling more accessible and safe — it’s then on them to begin utilizing those features to keep them open and well maintained. And if parents want to make cycling a part of their everyday routine, then we have a suggestion on what to ride.
Commuting Everyday With A Ferla
The Ferla Family Cargo Bike is an ideal replacement for the family car. The three-wheel, front loader, bakfiets style trike features active frame steering, and a front bucket compartment where up to four people can sit comfortably. Travel these newly accessible city streets in style and with the entire family for the rest of this year, and beyond.
We understand how parents think of replacing those miles-long rides to school and the grocery store with biking might be intimidated. First off, the physical excursion that comes with cycling with our heavy-duty tires, and easy-to-maneuver active-frame steering is great for the body and mind.
Combining a daily workout with a commute is efficient, fun, and valuable. At the same time, if it’s just too much to imagine, then consider The Ferla Family Cargo Bike Electric Option with a 350w rear hub motor, and emissions-free pedal-assist technology.
The world has been cycling for generations upon generations. As we move towards health-conscious reopenings all over, and then eco-conscious ways of life for the years to come, alternatives to standard gas-guzzling cars are as important as ever. These COVID-inspired city changes are opening doors for new norms to emerge.
We believe cycling everyday is something everyone can benefit from. If a family cargo bike sounds like the right foray into the world of sustainable commuting for you, check out our products page today.