Bogota was the first to act. And it's no surprise: we don't know much about it, but the Colombian capital is a world pioneer in the development of city bikes. And its mayor, Claudia Lopez, considers that using a bicycle is a very good option in these times of virus and confinement. Since mid-March, it has therefore created an additional 76 km of cycle paths by closing axes previously used by cars. Bogota now has 550 km of cycle paths.
Several large cities have recently taken similar initiatives: Berlin, Bremen and Mönchengladbach in Germany, Seville in Spain, New York and Philadelphia in the United States, Calgary in Canada. Each time, avenues deserted by cars are now reserved for cyclists. In New York for example, where 80% of public space is made up of streets, a whole part of 2nd avenue in Manhattan has been converted into a bike path. And bicycle traffic increased by 50% in the first half of March, just before the wave of the epidemic hit the city. In Denmark, the government is also pushing to use its bicycle. Same thing in Buenos Aires in Argentina. And some capitals are planning to reserve cycle lanes for health personnel.
All this owes nothing to chance: the benefits are manifold. First, the bicycle is a good way to avoid the crowdedness conducive to the spread of the virus: the worst in this, obviously, is public transport. And even compared to a pedestrian, the cyclist, by the mere physical presence of his bicycle, is mechanically at a certain safe distance from his neighbor. It also allows you to go shopping for food without wasting too much time, if you do not have a shop next door. Let’s add that it’s a way to exercise and relax psychologically. And then it's an efficient system for home delivery, one of the few activities that is still in full swing. Several British scientists last week called for preserving and even developing bicycle use in the coming period. Contemporary history has shown, moreover, that the bicycle is a means of transport that re-emerges spontaneously during crisis phases, for example in Tokyo in 2011 or Mexico City in 2017 after earthquakes.
France is a bit of an exception; as part of containment measures, it does not allow the use of bicycles for physical exercise. The use of the bicycle is really limited to specific cases, for example if you absolutely have to work and get to work with your two-wheeler. It must also be said that the proliferation of new bicycle users can create problems. In New York, last month, the accidentology of two-wheelers increased. In addition, many people do not have a place to store their bikes. The fact remains that France is today, along with Spain, one of the strictest countries in limiting the use of bicycles for recreational purposes.