During the first months of the Coronavirus pandemic, a worldwide trend emerged: the bicycle is a resilient mode of transport the use of which grew dramatically. Many municipalities saw this and responded by implementing pop-up bike lanes. Scientists at the climate research institute MCC asked, if this kind of investment in bicycle infrastructure would lead to the desired behavioral effects. The results from 106 cities are overwhelmingly positive.
PopPop-Up bike lane on Hörlgasse, Vienna
An increase in cycling as a result of the pandemic
In the first year of the Covid pandemic, a paradigm shift was spoken of, as hundreds of cities throughout the European Union created long stretches of pop-up bike lanes, speed restrictions for motor vehicles and other measures encouraging cycling. The European Union itself took the first steps to making cycle and motor traffic equal. Many of these developments had their roots before the pandemic began, many were accelerated by the ensuing crisis. Here is a small selection of cycle infrastructure measures in European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Lisbon and London initiated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Data comparison from 736 bike counters
A study by the MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) engaged with cities who had erected provisional bikes lanes. Within four months these had reached, on average, 11.5km per city and were compared to cities which hadn’t implemented such measures. A database from 736 official bike counters across 106 European cities and monitoring by the European Cyclists’ Federation provided the basis for the investigations of the ‘Corona Bikelanes’. The research team used regressional analysis to determine possible influencing factors such as the positioning of the counting stations, the provision of bus and tram access, population density, trends towards an eco-friendly lifestyle as well as topography and weather.
PopPop-Up bike lane in Berlin
The Berlin-based research team focused on the correlation between the measures that were implemented. “It is clear that many people are turning to the bicycle to avoid sitting in a full bus, but even accounting for this, we can demonstrate that the new bike lanes promote increased bicycle travel.” – Sebastian Kraus, political analyst at the MCC and lead author of the study. (vgl. MCC 2021, source here)
Increase of up to 48 percent
The pop-up bikes lanes were mainly placed on main routes, filling gaps in the cycling network and improving bicycle infrastructure as a whole. This proved to be both cost-efficient and effective. For example, the implementation of 1km of pop-up bike lane in Berlin using street markings and bollards cost just 9,500 euros. Evaluation of the pop-up bike lanes between March and July 2020 showed an increase in bicycle traffic between 11 and 48 percent. The study also showed a drastic increase in bicycle traffic immediately following the erection of the pop-up bike lanes.
It has not yet been shown whether the increase in bicycle traffic will continue in the future. “More research is needed to investigate whether this change is sustainable and if similar results can be shown outside of a pandemic“ – MCC scientists Sebastian Kraus and Nicholas Koch.
TU-Study demonstrates success of pop-up bike lanes in Vienna
In cooperation with Radkompetenz member con.sens mobilitätsdesign and tasked by Radkompetenz member Mobilitätsagentur Wien, the research division for traffic planning and engineering at the Technical University of Vienna (TU) carried out a complementary study in the autumn of 2020 investigating the success of Vienese pop-up bikes lanes and shared street projects. The result of this study was also clear: the pop-up bicycle infrastructure in the Wagramer Straße, Lassallestraße, Praterstraße and Hörlgasse were very well received. More on this topic here or in this Interview with co-author Ulrich Leth (TUWien) with Roadmap2050.
Download the studies:
The entire study can be downloaded here. Sebastian Kraus, Nicolas Koch (2021): Provisional COVID-19 infrastructure induces large, rapid increases in cycling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Washington, D.C.
Study from TU Wien, 2020, DI Dr. Harald Frey (Projektleitung), DI Barbara Laa, DI Ulrich Leth, DI Florian Kratochwil (con.sens), DI Philipp Schober (con.sens): Download also in our database WISSEN
Fotos: Karo Pernegger, Peter Provaznik, Stadt Berlin