COVID-19 Pandemic Has Been Good For Cycling

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By Kylee Spjut — COVID-19 has caused a lot of regular routines to be altered this year. People have traded long morning commutes for home offices and dispersed their errand-running throughout the day. Not only does this mean there are fewer cars on the road, but new modes of transportation are being discovered and utilized. People who haven’t previously found interest in active transportation are participating in trail runs, nature walks and biking trips.

Mike and Tristin West have become a cargo bike family. Photo courtesy the West Family.
Mike and Tristin West have become a cargo bike family. Photo courtesy the West Family.

The West family is just one example of the significant increase in cycling since the pandemic hit. Mike and Tristin wouldn't have called themselves avid cyclists pre-pandemic, but they now ride their bikes for most local errands.

“We live for the summer since we are careful through flu season every year to limit exposure to our son who has a rare genetic syndrome that includes many medical conditions. We had to think of what we could do to make the summer special for our two kids and still make some memories. We finally had an “ah ha” moment and realized that a family cargo bike may be the way we were going to have some fun in the summer and make new memories.”

Tristin West rides through Daybreak with her kids in the cargo bike. Photo courtesy the West Family.
Tristin West rides through Daybreak with her kids in the cargo bike. Photo courtesy the West Family.

After a friend and cargo bike advocate agreed to let the West family borrow his tricycle cargo bike to see how the kids would like it, the Wests were absolutely convinced that they were to become a cargo bike family. “Our kids absolutely loved it! My son is non-verbal, but it is easy for us as his parents to know when he loves something since he was all smiles and shrieking for joy as he could feel the wind in his hair!”

To this day, riding in the cargo bike is their son’s happy place. He is found smiling and belting out his shrieks of joy as they ride throughout the community!

The Wests say that embracing the cycling culture won’t be a temporary change for them, even with winter coming. Mike says, “I am finding that biking in inclement or cold weather is all about being prepared. I have heard many say that biking doesn’t work in the winter in Utah because it is too cold. This winter is going to be different for our family. We will be going out on our bikes together even in the cold.”

The Wests still own two cars, but don’t use them nearly as much as they used to. “Cycling is our way to do our part to reduce air pollution, reduce traffic congestion, and strive for a safer and healthier system of transportation.”

Recent data confirms that the Wests aren’t the only ones getting outside more and driving less amid the pandemic. With a 314 percent increase in just one of several Utah trails, it’s apparent that Utahn’s are more active than ever before. Strava data shows a significant increase in participation as well.

By driving less, individuals, businesses and communities can ultimately help optimize mobility, improve health and conserve energy in Utah. As people return to their regular routines, Utahns can still rethink their trip and promote active and alternate modes of transportation.

Utah Strava Biking Trips
  2019 2020 Percent Increase
January     22,991        28,143 22.4%
February     21,297        44,261 107.8%
March     69,148        91,154 31.8%
April   107,802      194,955 80.8%
May   136,710      260,922 90.9%
June    176,160      246,971 40.2%
July   184,052      258,469 40.4%
August   176,552      234,420 32.8%
Totals   894,712   1,359,295 51.9%

 

Trail User Counts
  April 2019 April 2020 Percent Increase
Murdock Canal Trail      20,912        52,575 151.4%
Provo River Trail      20,246        47,271 133.5%
Jordan River Trail        7,964        21,619 171.5%
Mapleton Lateral Canal        4,311        17,852 314.1%

 

 

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