The Pandemic Bicycle Boom: Has It Changed City Infrastructure?

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Mary Aderholt is a blog master and journalist with a fierce passion for writing. She has been editing articles for various US-based newspapers whilst contributing to the growth of many personal or organizational blogs for 10 years now. She is well accustomed to writing online as well as offline articles covering almost any type of subjects, be it health, beauty, sports or pretty much anything else related.

Changes in the U.S. public bike planning are slow and underfunded, but there are definitely signs of progress. The pandemic bicycle boom of 2020 has forced communities to begin planning upgrades in their biking infrastructure to accommodate the greater number of bikers hitting the streets amid Covid-19 restrictions.

Much of the growing interest in biking is caused by financial worries of enforced unemployment. Americans can’t afford to drive as much — if at all — and have turned to reliable bikes for local transportation. That’s resulted in increased new bicycle sales, bike repair operations, and refurbished bike offers.

The most astonishing part of the trends is that it has reversed more than a century’s worth of biking infrastructure neglect. In just a few weeks, biking sales rose by 75 percent, and cities reversed past policies and rapidly approved changes in the infrastructure.

Worldwide Changes in Infrastructure

Sheltering-in-place laws rapidly affected motor vehicles as people began exploring cheaper transportation options. Bike enthusiasts jumped at the chance to make the trend more permanent by demanding – and getting — changes to biking infrastructure fast-tracked.

For example, Paris began adding 400 miles of bicycle routes in a city already near the top of the list for biking infrastructure. France offers a $59 rebate for getting a bike tune-up, and Italy offers a 60 percent rebate — up to $593 — of the purchase price of a new bicycle. The U.K. approved a $315 million biking infrastructure bill, and Oakland and New York decided to designate various streets as barred to motor vehicle traffic.

The Tilt Toward Support of Bicycling

Many people are beginning to recognize the green opportunities tied to the Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath. No better opportunity – besides a nuclear war — has the potential to reverse years of biking neglect in the United States.

Cities like Oakland and Seattle have recently vowed to make temporary road closings permanent, and bike supporters are binging pressure to bear on city planning commissions to expand biking infrastructure across the boards.

Changes Must Come to Sustain the Biking Trend

Serious infrastructure changes must happen if the biking trend continues to grow. European cities are famous for providing citizens with strong biking infrastructures. The United States wasn’t equipped when the biking trend took off in 2020 after generations of leaving bikes in the dust metaphorically.

America’s wide-open spaces were tailor-made for personal transportation. Gas shortages, high prices, and even the finite supply of fossil fuels have been unable to make a dent in transportation planning geared toward personal vehicles.

In fact, the trend of putting personal vehicles on Uber or Lyft has enhanced personal vehicle attractiveness for many drivers who couldn’t afford high car-related expenses without an option to earn money.

Major Structural Changes Get a Boost

The necessity of dealing with the Covid-19 crisis has given a boost to city planning commissions to make necessary structural changes. Walk down the streets of any semi-urban area, and you’ll find attempts to make areas more pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

These efforts include closing certain streets to motor vehicles, establishing bollards to prevent car traffic, designing parking areas for bicycles, and making American cities as bike-friendly as their European counterparts by building more paved biking routes.

Boom-and-Bust Cycling History

Whether the new-found interest in cycling in the United States falls victim to the regular boom-and-bust cycles of the past is uncertain. The current mainstream obsession with biking was mirrored in the past, but these times quickly faded away given the ongoing public interest in the latest motor vehicle upgrades. Brief periods of interest are usually followed by neglect for decades.

Closing Thoughts

With biking becoming so popular and infrastructure not being up to the task during the pandemic, there will always the risk of serious bicycle accidents in cities. As a result, one of the biggest changes to having more adult bicyclists on city streets is the need for cycling liability insurance.

But liability insurance for personal bicycles is sometimes not enough to cover severe injuries or extreme property damage. That is why having a bicycle accident attorney on speed dial is often a backup plan new and seasoned bikers alike need to seriously consider.