The quarantine has brought the increased popularity of biking and walking front and center for all to bear witness. During bike month we heard many stories of people finding the joy of biking, enjoying the new temporary spaces available for biking and walking, and enjoy seeing all the other walkers and bikers on the roads. Walking and biking is a form of active transportation, a great way to keep healthy and reduce emissions. And nowadays, walking and biking also offer much-needed relief, a reason to get outside, exercise, and be outdoors with your family – while social distancing. And being out in large numbers walking and bike is possible because we don’t have as much traffic and where sidewalks and bike lanes are not available, people are able to use the road. With less traffic on the roads, walkers, bikers, and drivers are sharing the road peacefully.
It’s good for public health because:
- Active transportation has a known link to physical health and lowering health costs
- Teenagers who walk and bike to school watch less TV
- Less traffic means better air quality and lower rates of lung disease
- Places that invest in bike lanes and sidewalks have lower rates of adult obesity
- Active transportation infrastructure lowers the rates of vehicular crashes
- Lowering traffic speeds is linked to lower rates of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths
- Availability of walking and biking trails and access to transit decreases the stress associated with long car commutes
It’s a matter of social justice because:
- Low-income people have the highest rates of walking and biking to work
- People from low-income communities are twice as likely to be killed while walking and biking
- African Americans and Latinos are twice as likely to be killed while walking and biking
- Only 49% of low-income communities have sidewalks , compared to 90% in high income
- Only 5% of low-income communities have bike lanes requirements, compared to 15% in high income
- Low-income communities are more likely to have highways cross through or nearby which increases the rates of asthma and other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
- Women, regardless of income levels do not feel safe walking and biking when sidewalks and biking trails are not available
- Seniors and people with disabilities lack mobility when crosswalks, sidewalks, and other infrastructure does not take their needs into consideration.
And the list can go on and on; if you are interested in learning more about the link between active transportation and health, and social equity, you can read more here and here.
People who can’t afford a car or don’t want a car should be able to get places without one, regardless of where they live. Whether commuters, seniors, children, or people with disabilities, we can all benefit from safer streets and more active transportation infrastructure.
Stay safe and healthy!