More Bikes Lanes, More Bikes: Lessons from the Pandemic

New research ties pop up bike lanes implemented in Europe during the pandemic to increased levels of biking.

2 minute read

April 2, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Pandemic Bike Lanes

Active transportation was the rule on Rue de Rivoli in Paris during the COVID-19 lockdown in May 2020. | Jerome LABOUYRIE / Shutterstock

Veronica Penney shares the news: "Adding bike lanes to urban streets can increase the number of cyclists across an entire city, not just on the streets with new bike lanes, according to a new study."

"The finding adds to a growing body of research indicating that investments in cycling infrastructure can encourage more people to commute by bike," adds Penney.

The study, authored by Sebastian Kraus and Nicolas Koch and published in April by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, quantifies its findings thusly: "in cities where bike infrastructure was added, cycling had increased up to 48 percent more than in cities that did not add bike lanes."

The effect varies depending on the density of development and public transit. Denser, transit-oriented cities saw larger increases. "Paris, which implemented its bike lane program early and had the largest pop-up bike lane program of any of the cities in the study, had one of the largest increases in riders," according to Penney's explanation fo the study.

The article includes more details on the study's findings, as well as an explanation of the study's methodology. Penney also connects the study' findings to bike mobility as a tool in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While the study focused on Europe, it's worth noting that the city of Bogotá, Colombia, also the originator of Ciclovía, was the first to temporarily expand bike infrastructure in the name of public health during the pandemic, opening 76 km (47 miles) of temporary bike lanes to reduce crowding on public transport in early March. The actions of Bogotá to increase bike infrastructure were one of the clearest, early signs of the many ways the public health responses of the pandemic would interest with issues of planning.

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