Did you thank your bike today ? It’s #WorldBicycleDay2020

In recent times, rarely have bikes been praised or used as much as since the global lockdown. Cycling emerged as a way to stay connected.  Biking is this marvellous changing agent and social justice tool, that’s fun and healthy for us and the planet! Mobility for essential workers like healthcare providers is more important than ever. They, like all of us, still need to go buy food, deliver necessities or take care of loved ones. And with cities reinforcing physical distancing, many people have turned to cycling as a reliable option! Cities, like London (UK), and provinces, like Ontario or Québec listed cycling shops as essential services back in April. From China to Philadelphia, urban cycling networks have seen a surge in traffic.

In essence, this Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the vulnerability of our cities and entire planet. We need safe, affordable and sustainable ways to get around our cities. And now as nations awake to a new reality, we are all asking ourselves how should our lives, our economy and our cities start again? The climate and economic crises are two symptoms of our broken system. To rebuild, we MUST make our cities and citizens more resilient to health and environmental crises.  So, can bicycles be a solution to the challenges of post-pandemic recovery?  

It’s time we Reimagined, Reinvented & Reprogrammed our cities !

⚠️ Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas 

and this number is expected to increase to 68% by 2050.  ⚠️

In its technical guide titled “Moving around during the COVID-19 outbreak“, the World Health Organization recommends riding bicycles or walking whenever feasible. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), safe infrastructure for walking and cycling is also a pathway for achieving greater health equity. For the poorest urban sector, who often cannot afford private vehicles, walking and cycling can provide a form of transport while reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and even death. Accordingly, improved active transport is not only healthy; it is also equitable and cost-effective. (Source: UN.org)

It’s inspiring to see some mayors make bold moves!

Like London’s (UK) Sadiq Khan

Or Montreal’s Valérie Plante

How do we do we build back better ?  We bike, transit, walk!

FIRST step:  we free our cities from gas-powered cars. Why ? Because cars occupy an average of 50% of a city, if you count roads and parking lots.  Our new normal should prompt our cities to make long-term plans that benefit cyclists and pedestrians. The new lifestyle that our cities need isn’t about simply blocking streets and making shop owners’ lives difficult. This isn’t about car owners versus bike owners versus pedestrians. This is about selecting streets smartly and creating a network that gives space to pedestrians coming out of lockdown, that helps local business owners, reduces traffic. With summer around the corner, we need safer, more fluid circulation for people, bikes and vehicles. 

↘️ This means that cities, and their citizens (that’s you, and I, my nieces, my friends, and their parents) must be at the forefront of efforts to hack the climate emergency and economic crisis.  

↘️ This also means that we cannot dismiss the needs of commuters or refuse to acknowledge their rights to public transit developments.. This must be factored into plans for a green global recovery. 

#Bikelanes #Publictransport #CleanAir #Sidewalks

SECOND step: we change our habits and push our governments to  swap  our lacklustre, polluting transport networks for greener transport. That means investing in electric public transport, sustainable alternative mobility options and green community spaces accessible to all. 

‘Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.” 

🌳 Grant Petersen🌳

Let’s bike around for a quick tour around the 🌎

(Photo Source: @FutureEarth, Instagram)

Around the world, cities have started transforming their streets because they need more space for cyclists — not just for the moment, but to help relieve pressure on transit systems that won’t be able to carry as many people because of physical distancing. Now more than ever, we need to increase the capacity of public transport to allow for space between passengers to help prevent the spread of infection while improving the access to greener alternatives, such as bikes, rollerblades, electric scooters, skateboarders, etc.

🇦🇪Abu Dhabi… unveiled an amazing bike sculpture and opened 400 km of new bike lanes in February.

🇬🇷Athens… will “liberate” public space from cars by allocating 50,000 square metres of public space for cyclists and pedestrians, with a 6.5 km “grand walkway” uniting archaeological sites in the historic centre.

🇩🇪Berlin… 22 km of new bike lanes have appeared almost overnight.

🇨🇴Bogotá… 80 km of new bike paths were announced in May , on top of the 300 already in place.

🇭🇺Budapest… 12 miles of temporary bike lanes have been added to some of the city’s busiest roads.

🇮🇪Dublin… the city council has set aside swathes of Ireland’s capital for pedestrians and cyclists to facilitate physical distancing in a “temporary mobility plan” that may become permanent.

🇫🇷Paris… around 20 miles of temporary bike lanes have been set up across the city. They are also incentivising Parisians with around $80 CAN (€50) to get old bikes repaired as part of the new program ‘planvélo’! 

🇲🇽Mexico City… proposed plans for 130 Km of temporary bike infrastructure to alleviate the risks of public transportation use.

🇮🇹Milan… among the most polluted cities in Europe, have said 22 miles of streets will be transformed over the summer as part of a scheme to reallocate space from cars to cycling and walking.

🇮🇹Rome… the city council has approved the construction of 150 Km of temporary and permanent cycle routes. People in towns and cities with populations of 50,000 or more will also be able to claim up to €500 toward the cost of a new bike! The payment also applies to scooters, electric bikes and Segways. Can we give them a 👏‘brAAAaaavo’👏 per favore

(I found the amazing examples above in The Guardian and in WRI.) 

We’re also hearing of the emergence of ‘slow streets’ in California and New York City is closing more streets, hopefully making them permanent with time.

Can you feel the wind under your helmet ? 

So what’s happening here in 🇨🇦 Canada 🇨🇦 ? 

The good news ? From used bikes to entry level to e-bikes, bike sales have surged as Canadians leave their cars at home. 

“Sales are so strong that many bike-shop owners say manufacturers are out of some models.”

The less than good news ? Our canadian cities are not cycling fast enough! Did you know ? ‘In Berlin (…) 14 miles of pop-up bike lanes (…) have been introduced in anything from 3 to 10 days.’  

All commuters who can enjoy a bike ride to work should be able to do so safely. BUT not all our cities are ready yet to cope with this increase of bicycle users. If we don’t push our cities to adjust, commuters could switch to autos from transit because our cities are not ready for our new normal. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are… slow! These are Canada’s three largest cities! In Toronto and Vancouver, auto traffic dropped by more or less 50% and almost evaporated in Montreal.  Still, cities didn’t make announcements about plans to provide more walking and cycling space on streets until March, although numbers tell us that in the last two months cycling remained relatively strong while transit ridership and vehicle traffic dropped dramatically. 

Montreal… In Montreal, 52 000 people still took the popular Rachel bike that has the famous bicycle counter. So far, this city has the most ambitious plan across Canada. On May 15, Montreal announced it will repurpose 200 km of road into new pedestrian streets and bike lanes! These ‘active safety lanes’ will be reconfigured this summer, so we still have to wait and see the details. Those familiar with Montreal will appreciate knowing these streets include Mont-Royal-Rachel, Christophe-Colomb, Sainte-Catherine… and others. Check out details here.

Toronto… The city of Toronto promised last week it would speed up plans to add additional cycling infrastructure to Toronto streets including accelerated key bike corridors. City councillors voted on the accelerated plan on Thursday 27th and the motion passed! This is the largest package of #bikeTO lanes in Toronto’s history. That’s 40km as early as July 1st.

Vancouver… Also promised over 50 Km to be repurposed.

Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg … All three cities announced throughout April to make some streets low-speed or locals-only zones.

So remember to push your MPs to SWAP for a green & just recovery.

Choose your bike colour yet ?