Once people went into lockdown, cycling rates began to soar. Indeed, the demand for bicycles is so high that many shops can’t keep up with the demand. It’s not unheard of for bicycle manufacturers to report a 200 percent increase in sales compared with 2019. Google also reports that searches for words like “bicycle routes” are at an all-time high.
As the “cycling constituency” grows, so do calls for traffic safety reforms across the USA. Indeed, many traffic safety advocates believe this is a golden opportunity to experiment with “green” urban planning.
Below, we’ll share just a few traffic safety initiatives spurred on by the COVID cycling boom.
Four Fascinating Cycling Safety Initiatives In The USA
Oakland’s “Slow Streets” Program Picks Up Speed
California—and especially the Bay Area—has always been on the cutting edge of cycling safety. Therefore, it’s no surprise that one of the most influential cycling initiatives of 2020 came out of Oakland.
First introduced in April, the “Slow Streets” initiative closed dozens of residential streets to through traffic. This program’s goal was to give cyclists and pedestrians more room to walk through the city while social distancing.
Soon after Oakland introduced its “Slow Streets” plan, other areas across the USA began implementing similar programs. Just a few other cities that copied Oakland’s initial plan include Minneapolis, San Francisco, and NYC.
At this point, it’s unclear whether these road closures will remain after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many cycling advocates hope this “Slow Streets” experiment will change how everyone thinks about city design.
Practicing Pedaling In The Panhandle – Panama City Beach Holds A “Bicycle Rodeo”
Cycling safety starts with solid training. That’s the reasoning behind Panama City Beach’s first-ever “Cyclist Safety Rodeo” at the start of 2021.
At this event, volunteers and police officers taught new cyclists all the basics of street signs and proper signaling. As an award for completing this training course, kids had the chance to win new bicycles or helmets, all of which were generously donated to the police.
But don’t worry if you missed this year’s event. The 2021 rodeo was such a success that the police say they’re planning on doing it again next year!
Return Your Books And Fix Your Bikes! – Northern Kentucky’s Library Repair Station
Safety tip: don’t read a book while riding your bike! Instead, have your bicycle repaired while you’re reading your books. Sound crazy? Well, in Northern Kentucky, you could get your bicycle spruced up while you’re studying your Shakespeare!
In 2020, the Kenton County Library announced it will now host a bicycle repair shop to provide cyclists with complimentary mechanic services. Bicycling is a quickly growing trend across Kentucky and Kentucky laws legally treat bicyclists with the same rights as cars. Librarians hope this novel initiative will serve to further encourage the community to drop the car and pick up their bike.
In addition to this “library repair shop,” the group Devou Good Foundation has donated thousands of bike racks throughout Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. Find out more info on these bike racks on Devou Good Foundation’s website.
Chicago Artists Paint Safer Streets For Cyclists
As Chicago shows, all you need are paintbrushes, paint, and a colorful imagination to significantly improve traffic safety. Throughout 2020, the Chicago Department of Transportation “created” more space for pedestrians and cyclists at some of the city’s busiest intersections.
In addition to giving cyclists more space, these stunning murals encouraged drivers to make wider turns, which helped reduce their speed. There are even a few instances where artists made pedestrian islands using nothing more than bright paint.
While these designs might not be as safe as physical barriers, it’s a worthy safety innovation that also helps beautiful urban landscapes. Be sure to check out some of the inspiring designs on Chicago intersections like the Lincoln Hub in Lakeview.