Coronavirus: Will bikes replace cars as Kiwis leave lockdown?

When the country entered almost complete lockdown Kiwis were urged not to travel further than the supermarket in their cars - as a result the roads were swamped by cyclists.

A Bike Auckland survey found 60 percent of the "traffic" at COVID-19 alert level 4 was people on bikes and on foot. 

Now, as the country prepares to drop into alert level 2 at midnight on Wednesday, some are wondering if cycling is the new normal.

Urban designer Emma McInnes told The Project she found cycling much more comfortable under the strict rules of alert level 4.

"I have a hearing impairment so it means I could cycle without the anxiety of cars coming up behind me."

She says the lockdown meant she could cycle on roads she normally felt too afraid to. 

Overseas people are picking up the habit and governments are running with it - hundreds of kilometres of emergency cycle paths are being built in Paris, and London is following suit by fast-tracking new bike lanes.

In New York, entire roads are being closed to vehicles, so that walkers and bikers can have free reign. But will New Zealand follow?

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says yes - his council is "committed" to dedicating swathes of the city streets to cyclists.

"We agreed on seven projects including a footpath extension in Stout Street, a range of bike lanes across the city and a shared path on the Miramar Peninsula," he said.

Auckland has already put in several temporary cycle lanes, including one on Queen Street and Christchurch plans to follow suit. 

McInnes says the coronavirus lockdown has proved that Kiwis are not car-obsessed. 

"We're not actually a country full of people who love their cars, that myth has been well and truly debunked in level 4 - we will cycle if it's safe for us to do so."

 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz