Cycling in the Era of COVID-19: Lessons Learnt and Best Practice Policy Recommendations for a More Bike-Centric Future
3.1. Pandemics in Urban Areas and the Role of Mobility
3.2. The Era of COVID-19: Changes and Perspectives for Urban Mobility
3.3. Cycling as a Driver for Healthier and More Sustainable Cities
3.4. The Role of Cycling in the Travel Eco-System and the COVID-19 Disruption
3.5. Strategic Urban Planning for Cycling Prioritisation. How to Integrate Cycling?
4. Case Studies
4.1. Cycling Measures in Europe
4.2. Cycling Measures in America
4.3. Cycling Measures in Asia
4.4. Cycling Measures in Oceania
4.5. Cycling Measures in Africa
4.6. Mapping the Real-World Cycling Policy Experience
5. Lessons to Be Learnt and Policy Recommendations
- Temporary cycle lanes are easily implementable and economically feasible and combine the needs for providing both physical spacing and sustainable transport. These can work as an (un)official pilot exercise that tests the functionality and usage of permanent cycle lanes. There will be some wins and some losses in terms of their ability to work in a permanent basis but nonetheless they can be an apparatus, even if short-lived in some cases, for actively prioritising bikes over automobiles.
- Pop-up cycle lanes are necessary for the remainder of the pandemic since they can provide viable solutions especially for people that had to abandon public transport and shared mobility options like ridesharing. These lanes should serve commuting purposes and not only recreation trips.
- Traffic calming measures and road safety enhancement initiatives through road space reallocation, stricter speed limits, car bans, physical road design favouring bikes over cars are necessary complements to support cycling road infrastructure investments. Without making the road environment safer for bicycles and actively promoting accident prevention the pure cycling measures cannot succeed.
- Cycling parking, bike storage, e-bike charging stations and workplace showers should be available to support cycling road infrastructure initiatives and facilitate the needs of cyclists.
- Information about and communication of the new cycling measures is crucial for their uptake.
- Subsidies for the purchase of e-bikes will significantly increase their popularity and use. E-bikes could be of critical importance since they can be a substitute for longer car trips and there is evidence that people covered longer distances with bikes during the pandemic.
- In cities where bike-sharing thrived authorities should explore the possibility of expanding local schemes or supporting private companies running these schemes to invest more. The free 30-min use of schemes is a good example of incentivising more use. Cities with no schemes should seriously think to plan (on their own or through bike-share suppliers) their own systems.
- Policymakers, especially in cases where their long-term planning already involved cycling investments, should be decisive and take immediate action. This time framework favours pro-cycling investments. Cities in their current state (i.e., with less traffic) are at their best to be testbeds for cycling interventions.
- Cycling successes should be celebrated so that people are encouraged to continue on the same path. Failures should be analysed thoroughly to identify what went wrong; using ‘‘trial and error’’ wisely is a robust problem-solving apparatus.
- Some interventions failed due to their inability to fulfil their purpose (e.g., to appeal to commuters). When short and focused public consultation exercises and participatory events via online resources can take place with local road users these should be utilised. Building trust and a sense of community responsibility can help measures to be better designed, more functional and more acceptable.
- Temporary bike lanes and reallocation of space to cycling were sometimes questioned and heavily criticised by drivers. Taking road space from cars needs sometimes a powerful brand of public relations and marketing; infrastructure work alone is not entirely convincing. Transport providers should consider that social acceptance is a crucial factor and is not given that it will always be positively oriented towards cycling measures.
- When change-makers can do so, they need to lead by example; for example, communities having their Mayors cycling to work instead of using a car, are usually more appreciative of pro-cycling interventions.
- The temporary character of some cycling investments raised issues about cost. In general, there should be a better and more transparent distribution of funds. Significant capital should be spent only in situations where these measures have potential, if successful, to be permanent solutions. This potential should be communicated clearly to the general tax-paying public.
- Some stakeholders doubted the merits of temporary interventions; when implementing emergency cycling or mixed-use solutions, policymakers need to make cost-effective investments with non-controversial aesthetic value.
- Loosening restrictive legislations (like strict helmet laws for example) in a temporary basis is a trial worth taking forward now that motor traffic is considerably lower than normal in most cities and cyclist safety is thus enhanced.
- Educating people and especially younger citizens and children about cycling and its merits should be another investment. Interactive workshops, mobile apps and school classes can help. The ‘’cycling lessons’’ might be more convincing now than ever before with the emergence of cycling experienced in 2020.
6. Reflections, Limitations and Future Research
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Academic Literature Key Searches||Number of Journal Papers|
|Keyword combinations||Initial search||Passing screening||Papers included in the final review|
|Covid AND Cycling||74||17||15|
|Pandemic AND Cycling||88||18||15|
|Coronavirus AND Cycling||64||16||15|
|Cycling AND Health AND Sustainability||204||68||43|
|Cycling Infrastructure||Bike Sharing||Tactical Urbanism||Regeneration of Roads||Traffic Calming||Car Bans||SpeedLimits||One-Way||E-Bike Subsidies|
|Brussels||Belgium||√ (+24.9 km)||x||x||x||√ (23.4 km)||√ (5.15 km)||√ (20 km/h)||x||x||44% increase of cycling compared with 2019|
|Paris||France||√ (29.23 km pop-up cycle lanes)||x||x||x||√ (4.31 km)||x||x||x||x||27% increase of cycling compared with 2019|
|Lille||√ (9.23 km pop-up bike lanes)||x||x||x||√ (2.2 km)||x||x||x||x||60% increase of cycling compared with pre-COVID period|
|Barcelona||Spain||√ (21 km)||x||x||x||√ (12 km)||x||x||x||x||12% increase of cycling in post-pandemic era|
|Madrid||√ (12 km provisional bike cycle lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Focus on suburbs, and thus lack of cycle lanes in the city centre|
|London||UK||√ (25 km pop-up bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Concerns of high traffic volumes. Removed cycle lanes in Euston Road|
|Portsmouth||√ (pop-up bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Two of the selected road interventions removed after stakeholders’ feedback|
|Edinburgh||x||free 30 min||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||UK bike-sharing use for commuting rebounded back to pre-COVID rates but leisure bike-sharing rates especially over weekends have increased|
|Glasgow||x||free 30 min||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Stirling||x||free 30 min||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Berlin||Germany||√ (24 km temporary bicycle infrastructure)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Guideline “Temporary Installation and Extension of Cycling Facilities”|
|Munich||√ (pop-up cycle paths)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Removed cycle paths|
|Dublin||Ireland||√ (7.35 km cycle lanes)||x||√ (2 km widening)||x||√ (7 km)||x||x||x||x||Traffic volume in the first lockdown decreased by 70%|
|Budapest||Hungary||√ (9.9 km cycle lanes)||x||x||x||√ (3.63 km)||x||x||x||x||Bicycle usage more than doubled, car modal share increased to 65% from 43%|
|Lisbon||Portugal||√ (12 km pop-up bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||√||x||x||Cycling is more visible|
|Athens||Greece||√||x||√||√||x||x||x||x||€800/40%||Reduction of car use by 2%, 28% increase in pedestrian traffic, however bicycle use in the same low levels|
|Milan||Italy||√||x||√||√ (35 km)||x||x||√ (30 km/h)||x||x||Various conflicting opinions from citizens and stakeholders|
|Toronto||Canada||√ (25 km pop-up cycle lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||√||x||Cycle lanes in Brimley road were removed after monitoring|
|Vancouver||√||x||x||x||x||x||x||√||x||Extra cycle lanes in roads that turn into one-way roads|
|Oakland||USA||x||x||x||x||√ (119 km)||x||x||x||x||Slow-streets movement origin|
|Philadelphia||√ (25 km protected bike lanes)||x||x||√||x||x||√ (20 km/h)||x||x||Cycling traffic increased by 151% on trails|
|Seattle||x||x||x||x||x||√ (20 miles)||x||x||x||Two out of four counters saw a significant bike count increase|
|New York||√ (to be made)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||50% increase in cycling activity on all East River Bridges|
|Multi-state||Great American Rail-Trail (6000 km)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||3200 km has been implemented|
|Bogota||Colombia||√ (76 km temporary cycle lanes)||400 bikes free for medical staff||x||x||x||x||√||x||x||Cycling is more visible|
|Lima||Peru||√||x||x||x||x||x||√||x||x||Cycling is more visible|
|Quito||Ecuador||√||x||x||x||x||x||√||x||x||Cycling is more visible|
|Santiago||Chile||√||x||x||x||x||x||√||x||x||Cycling is more visible|
|Buenos Aires||Argentina||√||x||x||x||x||x||√||x||x||Cycling is more visible|
|Puebla||Mexico||√ (26 km new bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Cycling is more visible|
|San Pedro Garza Garcia||√ (6.5 km new bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Mexico City||√ (54 km new bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||In Insurgentes Av. the number of cycle trips has doubled|
|Wuhan||China||x||Free||x||x||x||x||x||x||e-bike sharing support||The average daily distance for a single ride increased by 10%|
|Beijing||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||The use of bike-share systems increased by roughly 150%|
|Seoul||South Korea||x||improved operations||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||The use of bike-sharing system increased by 20.46% when commuters go to work, and by 93.33% when they return to home|
|Chennai||India||√ (pop-up bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||The central roads presented a high intensity of cycling activity in year 2020|
|Bengaluru||√ (16 km pop-up bike lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||High increase in cyclist numbers (especially recreational)|
|Gurgaon||√ (10 km pop-up cycle lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||The local authorities announced that 25 km of pop-up cycle tracks will be added|
|Sydney||Australia||√ (6 km pop-up cycleways)||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||More cyclists ride than usual; favourable road conditions traffic-wise for cycling|
|Melbourne||√ (12 km pop-up cycling lanes)||x||x||x||x||x||√ (30 km/h)||x||x|
|Canterbury||New Zealand||√||x||√||x||x||x||√ (30 km/h)||x||x||Cycling most popular exercise trend over lockdown|
|Auckland||√||x||√||x||x||x||√ (30 km/h)||x||x||Walking and cycling accounted for over 60% of local trips|
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Nikitas, A.; Tsigdinos, S.; Karolemeas, C.; Kourmpa, E.; Bakogiannis, E. Cycling in the Era of COVID-19: Lessons Learnt and Best Practice Policy Recommendations for a More Bike-Centric Future. Sustainability 2021, 13, 4620. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094620
Nikitas A, Tsigdinos S, Karolemeas C, Kourmpa E, Bakogiannis E. Cycling in the Era of COVID-19: Lessons Learnt and Best Practice Policy Recommendations for a More Bike-Centric Future. Sustainability. 2021; 13(9):4620. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094620Chicago/Turabian Style
Nikitas, Alexandros, Stefanos Tsigdinos, Christos Karolemeas, Efthymia Kourmpa, and Efthimios Bakogiannis. 2021. "Cycling in the Era of COVID-19: Lessons Learnt and Best Practice Policy Recommendations for a More Bike-Centric Future" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 4620. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094620