As the daily coronavirus death toll slowly falls in Italy and cities in the country make plans for reopening, Milan is beginning to transform 22 miles of local streets, adding temporary bike lanes and wider sidewalks, and lowering the speed limit. In Berlin, some parking spots have also become pop-up bike lanes. Paris is fast-tracking long-distance bike lanes that connect suburbs to the city center. And in Brussels, on May 4, the city center will become a priority zone for people on bikes and on foot.
Cities are responding to an immediate need for transportation to change—as more people begin to go back to work, if subways and buses can’t be as full as usual while allowing passengers to maintain social distancing, biking and walking will need to fill the gap. But it’s also a way to accelerate plans to cut car use that were already underway to fight climate change and make urban air safer to breathe.
“If we all need to be healthy and move in a healthy way, there’s no better way to do that than to walk and bike, and providing the infrastructure to do that is absolutely key,” says Mike Lydon, principal at the urban planning and design firm Street Plans. “Traffic volumes will go back up. But it’s at this point where we get to decide in our cities how much of it we let back in, and to what degree it’s a guest.”
When you think of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, Amsterdam and Copenhagen probably come to mind first. But another contender has edged into the top tier: Utrecht, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing city in the Netherlands, where average daily bike trips number 125,000.
A new short film from the transit-oriented documentary-makers at Streetfilms reveals how this city of 330,000 turned into a cyclist’s paradise. As in Nijmegen—star of yet another recent Streetfilms project—it’s all about the infrastructure. Specialized roads and parking facilities gives bike riders the upper hand over cars, which make up less than 15 percent of trips into city center. Some 60 percent happen in the saddle.
On Saturday, NST Online conducted a poll on social media, asking Malaysians whether they were interested in using a new bicycle lane linking the suburbs of Wangsa Maju to the KLCC area which City Hall said would be completed in a year.
A total of 2,400 of our readers answered the poll, and when voting closed, it was revealed that 50.2 per cent said they would not use the bicycle lane, while 49.8 per cent said they were interested.
As the issue unfolded, there were many comments on the articles suggesting why cycling is still not a common practice in Malaysia. Safety and poor infrastructure as well as dangerous drivers and narrow Kuala Lumpur roads were cited as some reasons why Malaysians don’t cycle to work, and why cycling lanes were not suited for Malaysia. Yet, there were other naysayers who said that the Malaysian climate was not conducive to cycling, and any effort would be doomed to fail.