Whether it’s to be a little 'greener', for economic, fitness or health reasons, one of the big impacts of COVID19 is that it has forced us to review certain habits. How will your journey to work or even your daily habits change?
“Transportation history is full of stories where something that was done temporarily turned out to be permanent, because people didn't want to go back,” says Jarrett Walker, an international transit consultant and author of Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives.
New bike lanes have already been popping up during the pandemic, appearing in cities from Berlin toBogota. In recent weeks, Oakland, California, has closed 74 miles of streets to make room for cyclists and pedestrians, and many other places, including London, Seattle, Washington, and Milan, aim to permanently reduce car use.
Experts predict these bike lanes will create a self-perpetuating cycle, as the number of people biking boosts demand. During a major overhaul of the freeway through downtown Seattle, for example, the city temporarily turned traffic lanes into bus lanes, and then never took them away. Building 400 miles of bike paths in Paris would cost much less than—just two percent the price—an upcoming redesign of the city’s subway system.
Biking isn’t realistic for everyone and it tends to be more accessible to people who live close to their jobs. Still, a growing industry of electronic bikes could help people commute farther, especially if public transportation systems integrate their fare structures with bike-sharing programs to allow people to hop from bike to train to bike again. E-bikes are already available through share programs in dozens of cities.
The rise of e-scooters and future legalisation may also change the status quo. Their popularity has grown, and scooter-sharing schemes now operate in more than 100 cities around the world - including San Francisco, Paris and Copenhagen.
People can hire e-scooters, often using smartphone apps, in a way similar to city centre bicycle hire schemes. Electric scooters are freely available to buy in the UK online and in stores, and they cost anywhere from just over £100 to more than £1000.
At the moment, they are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs),so they're treated as motor vehicles and are subject to all the same legal requirements - MOT, tax, licensing and specific construction.
So, because they don't always have visible rear red lights, number plates or signalling ability, they can't be used legally on the roads.
The law covering e-bikes - which are battery-assisted pedal cycles - doesn't currently cover e-scooters, but the government wants to regulate them in a similar way in future. Normal scooters, those without motors, are not allowed on pavements or cycle paths - but they can be used on roads.
Whatever your commute looks like from this point, we hope that you have found some positive aspect to the current situation and you come out of this healthier, more aware and happier for it.