Brussels, April 2020 – The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released a technical guidance. It recites:
‘’While cities around the world are introducing a broad range of measures to limit physical contacts to prevent and slow down the COVID-19 pandemic, many people might still have a need to move around cities to reach their workplaces when possible, meet essential daily needs or provide assistance to vulnerable people’’. It continues:
‘’Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking: this provides physical distancing while helping to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities’’.
World cities are turning their streets over to walkers and cyclists: new temporary bike lanes are popping up. For example, in Berlin several streets have new, wide bike lanes that are created from space generally intended for motorized vehicles, Bogotá has turned 100km of traffic streets into emergency bike lanes using temporary cones, and Budapest city officials just planned a cycling network on main roads.
In the ‘’capital of Europe’’ Brussels, the entire historical city centre will be a 20km/h zone with priority for pedestrians and cyclists: the prioritization concept in the urban commuting framework is therefore gaining traction during this very difficult moment due to COVID-19. Paris and Madrid are preparing a long-term strategy and they are currently analyzing how to support bicycles as the first means of transportation after the removal of lockdown measures.
The Environmentalist Pierre Serne, former Transport Vice-President for the Ile-de-France region, in a recent article said: ‘’Next May we could see entire boulevards where motor vehicles would be provisionally banned in favor of the bicycle’’.
Bike shops re-opened in Austria on April 14th and in Germany on April 20th, while in other countries bike repair shops kept on being available, like in Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK : in that regard, here you can find the recent joint CONEBI – ECF press release, supported by Members of the European Parliament, calling on EU governments and local authorities to fully support Cycling.
Last but not least, COVID-19 is having considerable economic repercussions on the Bicycle Industry and thus CONEBI is in regular contact with the European Institutions to discuss prompt support: several EU programmes have been presented in the last weeks by the European Commission, but they have to be easily accessible for companies, avoiding red tape and empowering the Bicycle eco-system to be at the forefront of the much needed ‘’Green Revolution’’.