Environmental Defence: Can cycling pave the way for a greener, more equitable recovery?

Photo Credit: New bike lanes on Danforth Ave. (Nicholas Jones (2020), courtesy of Cycle Toronto).

Our Health Promoter and Scarborough Cycles Coordinator, Dr. Marvin Macaraig, shared some insights with Sarah Buchanan (Clean Economy Manager, Environmental Defence), regarding cycling and its connection to a more equitable recovery. Some excerpts below…

How could an investment in cycling infrastructure help cities recover from the pandemic and its impacts?

In response to the global pandemic, people everywhere rediscovered their bikes. Cities across the world began installing and upgrading their cycling networks, as more and more residents started riding because it was a safe alternative to move around when compared to using public transit. The World Health Organization has also recommended riding bicycles during this time because they enable physical distancing and helps meet daily requirements for physical activity, especially when their may be few options to get active.

Investing in cycling infrastructure will surely help make getting around easier for more people. This is important, since the effects of this pandemic will likely continue for years to come. What we need to do right now is build the cycling network that we will need for the future.

How do you think this investment could be more equitably distributed?

I think elected officials will need to re-examine their existing plans, and carefully consider where such investments would result in the quickest and largest impacts. In Toronto‚Äôs inner suburbs there is much that can be done quickly and relatively cheaply that will get more people riding. Many of the major roads in these areas are wide and can likely be reconfigured with bike lanes and/or multi-use paths beside the existing sidewalk, with virtually no impact to existing traffic. Also, these areas are known to have limited cycling infrastructure with accompanying high levels of public transit ridership, many of which have been identified as COVID-19 hot spots.

Read the full interview Can cycling pave the way for a greener, more equitable recovery?