How We Develop Cycling – Post Pandemic
Where will cycling be at the end of the current covid crises? It’s an interesting question, based on people wanting to be healthier and the ironic opportunity given to them over recent weeks to get out cycling.
Local bike shops tell me that sales are up and the EBike was already driving forward with its sales. It’s the one area of the UK economy that has thrived throughout the covid crises, with shops all citing huge sales and repair figures.
With cycling being one of the few exercises allowed, new people have taken to the streets and rediscovered the benefits of cycling. Add to this that people no longer feel safe on public transport, due to the close proximity of others, cycling provides them with a sense of freedom and safety. People also seem to want to get fitter too, as figures begin to show that being fit and healthy in your general lifestyle, gives you an edge in fighting the virus should you become infected.
It’s not about wanting to be Chris Froome and winning the Tour de France, whilst that is of course an admirable goal. It’s about people taking to the humble bicycle again in large numbers, as a means of transport and in support of their drive towards a healthier lifestyle. Cycling is a uniqure sport/pastime, providing the type of tough and rewarding challenge that people often crave, alongside an environmentally friendly and extremely healthy form of transport.
Chris Froome winning TDF number 4 – image copyright of Robert Thorpe
As a kid, I remember public information broadcasts for a variety of things, and maybe there’s an opportunity to continue with the resurgence of these, promoting both walking and cycling and laying down a better infrastructure to allow cycling to take place safer for young families. Across Europe there are superb examples of integrated cycling systems, and indeed I witnessed some in Flanders a couple of years ago, being able to cycle for miles and miles between town and then leave my bike safely in a huge covered bike park adjacent to the train station, whilst sharing a cappuccino with a friend.
It’s not about re-inventing the wheel; it’s simply about making sure that more cycle wheels are being used and that we have a healthier population, better able to cope with any future pandemic.
Bikes in Verona, Italy – image copyright of Robert Thorpe
The cycling industry has an opportunity presented to it; how it reacts will determine more than just sales figures in board rooms. It could literally change the shape of our society; a society that i truth, here in the UK has needed its shape changing for far too long. We failed to capitalise on the 20212 Olympic fever, quickly slipping back into fast food and processed meal Britain, with too many people being overweight. Looking back, the sale of school sports fields many years ago precipitated this, as too many children were no longer actively encouraged to take part in sports.
Yes, the actual shape of our population needs to change, and cycling is a proven way of not only doing this, but also of helping towards a better mental well-being – and, after the catastrophic effects of covid here in the UK and elsewhere around the world, that has to be worth working towards.
Bike park in Kortijk, Belgium, next to train station – image copyright of Robert Thorpe