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TOPIC: bicycle

Society

COVID Is Pushing These 6 Cities To Bet On Bicycle-Friendly Futures

After slowly shifting in some cities to a more bicycle-centric model, the pandemic has accelerated the shift from cars to bikes in cities around the world. Here are some prime examples

In the two centuries since they were invented, bicycles have tended to be much more about recreation than transportation. Sure, there's the occasional Dutch commuter biking through a small city or a poor person in the developing world who can't afford a car or an American kid delivering newspapers. But, otherwise, the bicycle has been meant for fun and exercise, and competitive sport, rather than as an integral part of the system of transport.

That may be about to change for good. After a gradual shift over the past decade to accommodate bicycle use, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift from cars to bikes in cities around the world. Beyond the long-term environmental and health benefits, the change of attitude is also linked to the lack of street traffic and pollution during lockdowns, and the social distancing that bicycles provide compared to crowded public transportation.

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COVID-19 Sparks First Signs Of Worldwide Bicycle Revolution

Across the globe, the coronavirus crisis has forced people to change not only the ways they work and interact with each other, but also how they travel. And in several countries, one of the unexpected consequences of all this has been a renewed interest in transportation of the pedal-powered, two-wheeled variety.

In some places — the Netherlands comes to mind — bicycles were popular even before the pandemic. But elsewhere, people are rediscovering them as a good alternative to public transport, where commuters are more at risk of catching the virus. Bikes, in contrast, are great for keeping physical distance. Riders can also cover quite a bit of ground, and get some exercise while they're at it.

Little wonder that in some countries, bicycle sales are booming — to the point that stores can't keep up with the high demand. "We're the new toilet paper and everyone wants a piece," a bike-store manager in Sydney, Australia told The Guardian.

Interestingly, the bicycle bump is also, in some cases, the product of public policy, as governments on both the national and local level are encouraging the use two-wheelers with concrete actions and incentives:

  • In France, that means tapping into an existing but neglected resource: the approximately 9 million "dormant" bikes ​thought to be collecting dust and rust and garages or sheds. To get all those bicycle back on the streets, the government has introduced a 50-euro voucher that people can claim and use for repairs. The voucher system is part of a global 20 million-euro package called "Coup de pouce vélo" to encourage more people to bike, with temporary bike parking and free educational sessions. And it seems to already be bearing fruit: More than 4,300 people living in the Ile-de-France region have already used the voucher, the daily Le Parisien reports.

Riding a bicycle on the famous Rue de Rivoli in Paris — Photo: Aurelien MorissardXinhua/ZUMA

  • Authorities in Italy are dangling money incentives as well — to the tune of 500 euros! — which residents in cities of at least 50,000 can use to buy a bicycle, Segway or even a scooter, Il Messaggero reports. This is part of a "Relaunch Decree" announced on May 14 that also promises to extend cycle lanes. The city of Milan had already released an ambitious plan called "Strade Aperte" to transform 35 km of city streets to make them more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians with new bike lanes, widened pavements and reduced speed limits.

  • In Colombia, authorities in the capital city, Bogota, are also offering bike riders extra accommodations. The city already has an extensive cycling network with 550 km of bike routes as well as "La Ciclovia," a program that involves closing main roads to cars every Sunday for cyclists and pedestrians. But in March, Mayor Claudia Lopez extended the program, closing more than 76 km to add new temporary bike routes during weekdays. The authorities are now considering making these changes permanent, according to the Colombian daily El Tiempo, adding that this has facilitated the circulation of around 922,000 cyclists so far. The mayor also insisted that bike shops be included on the list of essential services, thus allowing them to remain open during the lockdown.

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The E-Cycle, Pedaling That Fine Line Of Ecology And Utility

Bicycles with electric motors are becoming more popular and controversial at the same time. Environmentalists wonder if cyclists are losing their carbon neutrality in pursuit of an extra boost.

MUNICH — "You hear them before you see them ..."

Holger Köhler grumbles at the increasing arrival of so-called e-bikes, bicycles that have motors to help supplement the riders' pedal power. Those on a cycling path who are overtaken by an e-bike hear the hum of the motor well before its rider passes. But when Köhler was cycling up the hill towards his village recently, he was surprised to see a beautifully crafted racing bike pass him when he expected a bulky e-bike, which tend to be unusually ugly.

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Canyon, The German Pirate Revolutionizing Cycling

PARIS — It's the time of year when bike dealers are all smiles. For three weeks, the Tour de France provides the best advertising possible. But it's a different story this year and both wholesalers and shopkeepers look a little glum. They fear that cyclists from the Movistar or Katusha teams might win too many stages, or worse, win the Tour with their Canyon bikes.

Industry behemoths loathe the brand as much as taxi drivers hate Uber, especially after Canyon accompanied Cadel Evans when the Australian won the 2009 world championship. Ten years ago it was an almost invisible start-up. Now it's swooping in on the emperors of the cycling world — U.S. manufacturers Trek, Specialized and Cannondale — after cruising past renowned Italian brands such as Bianchi and Pinarello, and leaving France's Peugeot in the dust.

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Smarter Cities

Bogota Cyclists Go Green, Rolling Over Traffic And Smog

Bogota residents are increasingly braving reckless car drivers, crime and pollution to cycle their way through the Colombian capital. It's one way people are taking back public spaces.

BOGOTA — It's impossible to ignore car traffic or air pollution in the Colombian capital of Bogota, but there is cause for optimism here as cycling becomes increasingly visible. The city government is encouraging this green transport, and younger residents especially are keen to find new ways to live in this car-dominated metropolis.

If you plan to be among the million or so foreign tourists who visit the capital every year, cycling may be a good option for getting around, becoming familiar with the city geography, and meeting locals through cycling groups.

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blog

Fast Traffic, Slow Day

The swarms of motorcycles and rickshaws, known as samlo in Thailand, can be pretty scary for the uninitiated. But there are so many rental places that business is sometimes slow for the drivers.

blog

French Prestige

“Restaurant,” “haute couture,” “cuisine,” “raison d"être...” There are many examples of the linguistic prestige of the French language worldwide. But in Denmark, the perfectly acceptable Danish word for urinal, "pissoir," is also tacky French slang for the john.

Sources

In Australia, Sikhs' Turbans Exempt Them From Bike Helmet Law

Will Catholic nuns and orthodox Jews be next to point to their religious headwear?

BRISBANE TIMES, 612 ABC BRISBANE (Australia), HINDUSTAN TIMES (India)

Worldcrunch

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