Colorado Bike Month- Shift Your Ride
The coronavirus pandemic has been intense, but there’s been a small bright spot: bicycles. Specifically, people are buying new ones, fixing up old ones, and riding more than before.
There are various reasons for this phenomenon. Amid nationwide stay-at-home-orders, mass-transit ridership is in free fall, leaving essential workers in need of a socially distant way to get around. And many people, especially families with young children at home, are looking for lockdown-compliant ways to get outside and keep everyone as healthy and happy as possible.
As they venture out, those commuters and recreational cyclists—even dedicated riders who’ve been biking for years—are encountering a world they’ve never seen before: streets with less traffic (and sometimes closed to cars altogether), vehicle lanes converted into temporary bike lanes, air that’s cleaner than it has been for a long time.
Affordable recreational bikes and practical models for commuting and errands are in high demand right now. Also, child seats, trailers, and indoor trainers are seeing surges that are clearly pandemic driven.
There seem to be three broad groups of people riding more these days. The first are existing enthusiasts. The second group consists of family cyclists, who ride casually for recreation. Finally, there’s a group of cyclists who are riding primarily to get to and from work and commute around town. People are finding alternative ways to get around, and bikes make sense.
With parks and open space packed with people seeking fresh air and exercise, some cities including Denver have closed some streets to vehicles or transformed car lanes into temporary bike and pedestrian lanes.
The bicycle is a simple solution to some of the most complicated problems in the world. In this time of COVID-19, craving meditative aerobic exercise, biking is meeting that need. In fact, the WHO recommends it. Exercise is important for physical, mental, and emotional health. Movement supports your immune system, and is a great antidote for the anxiety and depression that can come from isolation. And it’s a safe, socially distanced way of getting around. It’s also a great time to be out on the streets, as there is less car traffic.
I have been thinking a lot about how lucky we are to live in a place that is so conducive to riding our bikes. With our amazing climate, stunning scenery, and a culture that values and encourages taking advantage of the outdoors, it can be easy to take the opportunities that bicycling offers for granted.
While the COVID-19 pandemic creates so much unknown, it’s also served as a reminder for us of the many benefits of bicycling. Bicycling connects people, it improves our health and the health of our neighbors, it reduces our stress levels in times of uncertainty like our current moment, and it allows us to see the world in new and unexpected ways.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to develop and change the way we work, educate and interact with our friends, family and coworkers, it’s my hope that you’ll continue to get out and ride your bikes to make your community as resilient as possible. But do so safely and with your fellow community members in mind.
Bikes make communities more resilient in the face of the unexpected.
Even though June is Colorado Bike Month, Fort Collins will be hosting and recognizing rescheduled Bike to Work Day on September 22, 2020 instead.
Dr. Amy LaTendresse Glaser is a physical therapist at Colorado In Motion and avid cyclist