Where Pandemic Bike Improvements Won Out

While some cities are reverting back to pre-pandemic street configurations, others are taking advantage of the momentum for bike and pedestrian infrastructure to make pandemic-era projects permanent.

2 minute read

January 29, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

People on bikes on crowded Rue de Rivoli in Paris in 2020

People on bikes crowd the Rue de Rivoli in October 2020. | Oliverouge 3 / Rue de Rivoli, Paris

Writing in Momentum Magazine, Ron Johnson highlights three cities where pandemic-era bike infrastructure projects have become permanent. 

In Toronto, Yonge Street, a busy north-south corridor, received separated bike lanes. “After 18 months of installation, the data demonstrates increases (ranging between 57 percent and 250 percent) in cycling trips and increases in pedestrian trips (ranging between 59 percent and 145 percent) on the corridor, as well as support for local business including an increase from 10 CaféTO patios in 2020 to 21 patios on the corridor in 2022.” City staff is recommending making the lanes permanent and did so for two other pandemic bike projects in the city. 

In San Francisco, thanks to consistent lobbying from bike activists, Golden Gate Park’s John F. Kennedy Drive has had intermittent closures for decades. San Francisco Bicycle Coalition executive director Janelle Wong says “the emergency order shutting it down, I think for the first time allowed people to see what seven days a week, 24 hours a day of closing that street looks like and what it feels like,” making it easier to gain support for permanently implementing the change.

Across the Atlantic, Paris has been pouring massive effort into building bike infrastructure and creating more multimodal and car-free streets. The transformation of the city’s famous Rue de Rivoli into a bike and pedestrian road during the pandemic signaled a turning point for the French capital. “In 2021, one lane of traffic for transit, emergency vehicles and the like was added back and the new configuration is now permanent.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 in Momentum Magazine

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