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Pandemic + Infrastructure Promote Bicycling

We saw coronavirus drive an increase in bicycling at the beginning of then pandemic; now Sioux Falls Parks & Rec says use of the pretty nice Sioux Falls bike trail system is up 200%:

“We have over a millions counts typically in any given year and the trial use has really continued to climb especially with Covid, more and more people are using the bike trails as an outlet for their recreation activity during Covid and so our numbers are up 200 percent,” Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation director Don Kearney said [Tom Hanson, “Sioux Falls Bike Trail Scheduled to Expand,” KELO-TV, 2021.05.23

The pandemic boosted bicycling all over the place, but so did investments in infrastructure. A new study finds that rededicating streets to bicycle travel gets more people out pedaling:

The bicycle is a low-cost means of transport linked to low risk of transmission of infectious disease. During the COVID-19 crisis, governments have therefore incentivized cycling by provisionally redistributing street space. We evaluate the impact of this new bicycle infrastructure on cycling traffic using a generalized difference in differences design. We scrape daily bicycle counts from 736 bicycle counters in 106 European cities. We combine these with data on announced and completed pop-up bike lane road work projects. Within 4 mo, an average of 11.5 km of provisional pop-up bike lanes have been built per city and the policy has increased cycling between 11 and 48% on average. We calculate that the new infrastructure will generate between $1 and $7 billion in health benefits per year if cycling habits are sticky [Sebastian Kraus and Nicholas Koch, “Provisional Covid-19 Infrastructure Induces Large, Rapid Increases in Cycling,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2021.04.13].

Hanson reports that Sioux Falls plans to expand its trail system to connect Harrisburg, Brandon, and Tea. Build that infrastructure, and people will come pedaling!

One Comment

  1. Mark Anderson 2021-05-24 15:45

    If they would run it to Renner and Baltic, I would bring my bike back to South Dakota next summer and set up a class at that art place between the two. That’s where the Andersons and Oien’s moved from Norway.

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