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  • Writer's pictureThothathri Raman

Cycles or Cars? More cities are opting for cycles

Covid or no Covid, many cities from around the world are quietly adopting the Netherland model of cycles instead of cars in their business districts and even housing colonies! The Pandemic has only accelerated the adoption of Cycles vs Cars which is going to be the future of modern cities. We at the have already acknowledged the trend and in fact adopted the vision 'Everyone should cycle" as the world has started moving on the two wheels and in the process promising lasting health benefits and a drastic reduction in carbon footprint. Though these are early days, already data trickling in from cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, Milan and even San Francisco shows that shifting to cycles has cut down carbon emissions by around ten to 30 per cent in the targeted zones where cycles have replaced the cars firmly.

Though already a very good city for bicycling, in recent years Utrecht has decided to go a step further and reduce the number of cars in the city's center. How? Eliminating roadways, reaching nearly 33K bike parking spots downtown, making transition to get to the train easier and safer for people bicycling in their new bike parking facility and hosts of other ways. See it all here. I guarantee you if you live in a city that doesn't have good bike planning or infrastructure this film will equally inspire and depress you!

A commentator to this video Laurenn says "As a Dutch person, I can confirm that this video is accurate. I haven't driven a car in years. I bike/train everywhere. You can even bring your bike on the train, except when it snows " Bicycles are becoming more popular as a result of people's concerns for the environment and it shows. However at a time when the cycles and micromobility ride sharing options are picking up, a huge supply side crisis is developing thanks to the very pandemic that is pushing cities to adopt to cycling. Manufacturing disruptions and shipping backups are impacting cycle manifesting industries worldwide.

Many cities initially thought micro-mobility that used the sharable electric scooters and other vehicles deployed around cities worldwide by companies such as Bird Rides Inc. and Neutron Holdings Inc. (doing business as Lime), reports Los Angeles Business Journal. But cities were pushing back on these programs due to concerns about safety and sidewalk clutter while investors had begun to raise concerns about the costs of distributing vehicles and keeping them operational long enough to generate a profit. Apart from Lime, even Bird, another micromobility company also altered its vehicle deployment strategy to account for the shifting demands of riders.

A report released last year by McKinsey & Co. noted that the number of consumers willing to use micromobility transportation options on a regular basis had increased slightly compared to pre-pandemic levels. The urban mobility app Moovit reported that public transport ridership has dropped on average by 78% worldwide, with Milan and Rome, for example, seeing a decrease of 89%.

Janette Sadik-Khan, a former transportation commissioner for New York City and principal with Bloomberg Associates, was quoted by a recent BBC report saying, “the pandemic challenges us, but it also offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change course and repair the damage from a century of car-focused streets,” she says. “Cities that seize this moment to reallocate space on their streets to make it easier for people to walk, bike and take public transport will prosper after this pandemic and not simply recover from it.” In the Colombian city of Bogotá, mayor Claudia López closed 117km (72.7 miles) of streets to cars in order to make cycling and walking easier during the coronavirus lockdown. The city also added 80km (49.7 miles) of cycle lanes.

In Paris, where mayor Anne Hidalgo’s Plan Vélo had already promised to make every street cycle-friendly by 2024 and remove 72% of Paris’s on-street car parking spaces, a post-lockdown plan was announced that includes creating temporary cycle lanes following metro line routes, for those hesitant to return to public transport. In Budapest, new temporary cycle lanes are due to last until September – but maybe further.

Apart from Amsterdam arguably the pioneer in cycle use, cities like London, Manchester are taking the cycling seriously and creating dedicated lanes and cycle parking at the metro stations rapidly. Tackling air pollution and climate degradation is high on the list for the new Global Mayors Covid-19 Recovery Task Force, coordinated by C40 Cities, which sees mayors worldwide collaborate to achieve a climate-friendly economic recovery from the pandemic. “The future will be very different, and I’m convinced it will be much more local – more cycle deliveries, more working from home and more school runs made by bike or walking,” says Shannon Lawrence, C40’s director of global initiatives, the BBC study quoted.

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