The entire planet changed quickly and rather unexpectedly early this year with the global pandemic. The daily routine of our lives shifted from going to work, school, shopping, and socializing with family and friends to Zooming and curbside pick-up. Rates of walking and bicycling shot up in response to fitness centers and yoga classes being cancelled as people looked for ways to stay active and reduce stress. Rates of bicycling increased dramatically even in auto-centric cities like Houston and Los Angeles. Fitness apps like Strava show Houston cycling rates were 138% higher in May 2020 than in May 2019. In Los Angeles the rate increased by 93%. Bicycles and bicycle parts sold out around the country as people rushed to purchase a new bike or they dusted off their old bikes and found they needed repairs.
As a transportation planner and cycling instructor it was clear we needed to be creative in offering support and resources to our community. We created new programs and webinars, conferences went online, and more flexible and creative approaches were adopted in teaching bike skills. We created a new program for kids named Cycling Superheroes. Parents sign kids up, tell us their favorite ride routes, and shared pictures of their rides. Kids get a specially designed Superheroes t-shirt, cycling safety activity books, and a bag to carry it in on their bikes. The Superhero kits were mostly delivered via bike, of course!
A Bicycling 123 Class for adults was offered in September. In Illinois we have the Bicycle Safety Quiz, a great online resource provided by Ride Illinois. The students take the online quiz before attending the class. Classes were limited to 6 students and held outside. We had a mother-daughter duo attend the class. The daughter had recently been hit by a car. Thankfully she was not injured but she wanted to improve her cycling skills and increase her on-road confidence. Helping people enjoy bicycling and be safe is a rewarding part of our work.