Cycling: A good way to maintain physical distancing in commuting

Priyanka Posted on: 2020-05-15 11:37:09 Viewer: 1,406 Comments: 0 Country: India City:

Cycling: A good way to maintain physical distancing in commuting

Our world is facing humanity’s biggest crisis. Almost every country has been affected by the disastrous Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Billions of people have been suffering from the impact of the global pandemic of COVID-19. The pandemic-driven crisis is constantly changing; countries are desperate to flattening the curve for COVID-19.

Cycling could be a good way to maintain physical distancing and it is no less important to reduce traffic congestion, especially when traveling short distances.

There are a number of possible futures, all dependent on how governments and society respond to coronavirus and it’s economy. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges for public transport also, as is evident; the country’s existing public transport infrastructure cannot meet current demand while also ensuring social distancing. Moreover, it is unrealistic to expect everybody to have access to private modes of transport.

This is the time to develop an alternative commuting system. The capital of Colombia, Bogota, has converted 100 km of city streets into cycle lanes to reduce the load on its bus systems. Mexico is planning to quadruple its cycle network to reduce the pressure on its metro. Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is creating cycle lanes as a safe alternative for the commute as the city has seen a 90% drop in public transport use. There are stories everywhere of people switching from transit trips to cycling and e-scooters, where these modes are available. India may set thousands of examples towards it.

Experts recommend a social distance of at least six feet between people, as well as reducing physical contact, to minimize the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and in public transport, it is tough to maintain. Cycling is a good way to maintain physical distancing and it is no less important to reduce traffic congestion, especially when traveling short distances. The adaptation of non-motorized transport such as Cycling and making them more inclusive will allow people to avoid overcrowded transit modes and help maintain adequate social distancing.

Cycling and walking also come with many health benefits. It does not only promote an active lifestyle but also improves mental health and strengthens the immune system if done under favourable circumstances. In the post-pandemic scenario, passenger-carrying capacity is going to be reduced by social distancing norms in public transit systems as the overcrowding of these systems will pose a further risk of disease transmission. Increasing investment and usage of cycling for short distances will also help in managing massive economic savings.

A study done by TERI states that cycling for short distances can result in an annual benefit of INR 1.8 trillion to the Indian economy, which is equivalent to 1.6% of India’s annual GDP. Also, have the potential of increasing personal fuel savings by INR 27 billion. Apart from the economic savings. Observations globally have also shown improvement in air quality and reductions in CO2 emissions due to the decrease in transport activity- highlighting just how much our daily transport and, especially, our use of private vehicles contributes to air pollution. But these are short-term gains and air pollution and emissions are expected to rise again once the situation is resolved. Only sustainable public transport or non-motorized transport including walking, cycling, and micro-mobility such as electronic scooters can allow for maintaining a good environment and reduce pollution.

Now a days, health and immune system is a major concern. According to health experts, cycling has the capacity to burn significant amounts of calories. Doing this exercise on a daily basis will help you burn more calories, which means you'll be able to lose fat stored in your body fat, including the abdominal fat you gained during the lockdown. It takes two to four hours a week only to achieve a general improvement to your health. As cycling is:

  • Low impact: it causes less strain and injuries
  • Good muscle workout: cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.
  • Easy: unlike some other vehicles, cycling does not require high levels of skill.
  • Good for strength and stamina: cycling increases stamina, strength and immune system.
  • Time-efficient: as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time spent driving motor vehicles or using metros, buses or with healthy exercise.

Riding a bike makes your breathing muscles work overtime to fuel your hard-working muscles. This hard work results in making your respiratory muscles a great deal stronger than they would be if you didn’t ride or exercise at all. The long-term effects of these muscles getting stronger mean your ability to extract oxygen from the air and your vital capacity both increases. This is why you feel yourself getting fitter the more and more you ride.

Generally speaking, policies and investments for non-motorized transportation (NMT) have a positive benefits-cost ratio. It may lead to livelihood generation for the urban poor, node-to-node connectivity, and inexpensive and comfortable services for city residents. It may also help in maintaining social distancing.

This article is co-authored by Ar. Priyanka Kumar, Urban Planner and  Ms. Shreya Mishra, Intern at Regional Center for Urban & Environmental Studies, Lucknow under the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Government of India.

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