GObike Buffalo has announced that the activity of cycling is growing exponentially in Western NY. The organization says that a report by the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) shows that cycling numbers have increased by as much as 3000% in some areas, as automobile traffic numbers have dropped. The study* (based on recently-installed Miovision cameras in Tonawanda, NY) was conducted from March to May, around the same time that WHO officially declared the virus as a pandemic. The traffic data, derived using the same time period in 2018 and 2019, shows:
- Traffic congestion dropped 95%
- Crash events dropped 45%
- Speeds increased by 3.7%
- Spikes in bicycle activity of 3000% and pedestrian activity of over 500% were observed and continue to be recorded at high levels as vehicular traffic levels gradually increase to pre-COVID levels
As for the increase in pedestrian activity, more people are leaving their cars behind to get exercise – walking is considered an ideal social distancing activity. With more people working from home, this is a natural result.
The good news is that these numbers – falling in line with national trends – will lead towards a healthier and happier community, especially if people choose to continue on with these lifestyle choices post COVID. Not to mention the improvements in air quality and decreases in greenhouse gas emissions that coincide with fewer cars on the road.
With more people walking and biking, this is the perfect time to implement additional traffic calming measures throughout Western NY, while advancing bike-ped infrastructure. Ultimately, the safer it is to get around by bike or foot, the more people will stick with these newfound routines and habits.
In May, GObike launched its Better Streets, Better Buffalo campaign “to advocate for safer streets in the City of Buffalo.”
*The calculation did include a seasonal effect and used data from January to February to establish a baseline. Further, the cameras continue to capture high levels of pedestrian and bicycle activity despite vehicular traffic beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels – GObike Buffalo
Lead image: Bike activist Eddie Ice Cream Jones