A study carried out in more than a hundred European cities shows once again that investments in cycling infrastructure encourage cycling.
Investing in cycle paths in the age of Covid
This work is only focused on adding ephemeral trails proposed during the pandemic, but the finding is still clear: add bike lanes in urban streets, and the number of cyclists will increase. And not just in the streets with new cycle paths.
This is the conclusion of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, led by two researchers from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. Paris, which offered the largest cycle route program of all the cities in the study, has recorded one of the largest increases in cyclists.
As part of this work, researchers Sebastian Kraus and Nicholas Koch collected data from March to July 2020 involving, among other things, the lengths of the new cycle paths proposed in the era of the pandemic and the readings of bicycle counters in 106 cities. European. These counters made it possible to measure the number of cyclists throughout the city, not just on the new cycle paths.
Result: The researchers found that in cities that had added bike lanes, cycling increased from 11 to 48% more than in cities which had not added cycle lanes. They also noted that the increase was maintained when controlling weather conditions and changes in the supply and demand of public transport.
Mr. Kraus nevertheless warned, as said above, that the results of this study are unique to the pandemic. It should be remembered that public health officials have encouraged bicycle trips over the past year in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. And, in fact, many cities around the world (not just in Europe) have offered new cycle paths in their streets. However, it may not be a stretch to imagine that more people could continue cycling once the pandemic is over.
The effects are felt on the environmental, health, but also economic level. On the one hand, bicycles, unlike cars, do not emit greenhouse gases. On the other hand, cycling is probably the best exercise for improving our physical condition in a healthy way. Finally, we know from a published study last January by Matthew Raifman, Boston University School of Public Health, that investments in cycling and walking infrastructure pay off quickly once the health benefits are factored in.