Op-Ed by Michelle Duren and Ryan David Kennedy
If it feels like there’s more bicycle traffic in New York City these days, it’s because there is. The city streets have seen an increase of 33 percent more bicycle trips in 2020, and during the past five years the number of bicycle commuters has risen five times faster than the other large cities in the U.S. The city, with 1,375 miles of bike lanes, is reaping the benefits of its cycling infrastructure.
In Washington, D.C., a five-hour drive to the south (depending on traffic), political leaders are discussing legislation that will inject investment into our country’s infrastructure and set the course for the coming decades of economic prosperity and growth. Now is the time to consider how investments can shift our country to transportation modes that are safe, healthy, and friendly to the environment.
As New York City has seen, investment in cycling infrastructure has tremendous strategic benefits because these investments can address our need to reduce carbon emissions and support a healthy population. E-bikes, bikes with a battery-powered motor, have the potential to expand the inclusivity of cycling and rival motorized forms of transportation.
During the pandemic there has been an increase in cycling and bicycle retailers have struggled to keep up with the surging demand nationwide. What is needed now is smart, targeted investments that capitalize on this shift and help sustain it in the longer term. The bi-partisan infrastructure bill includes important physical infrastructure investments but, for these to move us towards a more sustainable transportation sector in the near term, a concerted approach is needed that reduces other barriers to bicycling. The best solution at hand is facilitating the adoption of e-bikes, which offers a viable and green alternative to most car trips.