We love getting out and about. Right now, a lot of public transport isn’t running. For those of us without cars, that can be difficult. Many Americans are turning to bicycles to get around. That’s great! Some organizations are reaching out to provide free bikes for essential workers to help them get to work. However, there are things we must keep in mind while biking to stay safe.
Car traffic is down at the moment. Most commuters aren’t going to the office. People looking to get around are frequently turning to bicycles to get around, to exercise and for fun. But it can be dangerous with cars on the road. One in four adult drivers in the country admits to multitasking while driving. That can increase the danger for cyclists. Whenever possible, it’s best to use bike paths. However, that is not always possible.
“Our country is facing an unprecedented health crisis that has impacted all aspects of society and culture, and how we move,” said John Burke, President of Trek Bicycle. “At Trek, we’re curious to pull back the curtain to see how Americans are adapting to the new normal and if their attitudes and behaviors around cycling have shifted given that people are under more stress than ever before, feeling cooped up and seeking alternate modes of essential transportation that’s in line with social distancing.”
COVID-19 has changed our view of cycling. It is being viewed not just as a pastime but as a safe mode of transportation. In fact, 85 percent of people in the U.S. consider it a safer way to travel than public transport. Fourteen percent of Americans are using bikes instead of public transportation. Some of us, because of health concerns, ability or access to a bike, cannot make that change. But, if the people who can get off the bus do so, it makes those who have to take the bus safer.
“We are absolutely confident we are going to see more bike commuting in the months ahead,” said Polly Trottenberg, New York City’s transportation commissioner. “We are already seeing people who hadn’t biked before are trying it for the first time. We are going to see a lot more of that as the city starts to come back to life.”
Unfortunately, if you do not have a bike, getting your hands on one can be a little tricky. The country is facing a bicycle shortage. This is especially true for less expensive bikes. Most of us aren’t looking for something fancy. If you want to get around town, you don’t need a costly, sporty bike. You can call friends and family and see if anyone has one you can borrow. Or call your town hall, there may be a program to share bikes in your area. If it’s been a few years since you have ridden a bike, practice around your neighborhood before venturing far from home. And, regardless of your local laws about bike helmets, they make you safer, so they are a good idea even if they aren’t required in your state.
It’s essential to follow the rules of the road. Bikes have to follow the same rules as cars. Roadways that are one-way for cars are one-way for bikes. Stop signs and traffic lights are not suggestions: they are laws. A bicycle can go faster than a low speed limit. Bikes cannot break the speed limit any more than a car can. While bikes don’t have indicators or brake lights, there are official hand signals to show what you are doing.
With these tips, you can stay safer while getting around, getting exercise, spending time outside and lifting your spirits!