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Brief Published: 17 Apr 2020

Social Distancing Drives Cycling Boom

A pop-up bike lane in Berlin

In cities across the world, streets typically dominated by cars are giving way to cyclists – mostly workers avoiding public transport or residents seeking exercise. Councils are shutting streets and redrawing road markings to help them stay at distance, while compassionate brands step in to keep them safe.

As car traffic has dropped under the current coronavirus restrictions, cleaner air and quieter roads are becoming more inviting to cyclists. This is reflected in an uptick of UK-based sales of bicycles and exercise gear, as reported by the BBC.

In Berlin, councils are installing pop-up bike lanes and widening existing ones, using removable tape and mobile signs to make sure cyclists can conform to the local 1.5-metre-distancing rule. Other capitals, including Bogotá, Mexico City and Budapest have opened new bike routes to reduce congestion and person-to-person contact, while cities across the US and Canada are closing streets to motorised vehicles to relieve parks and leisure trails.

In London, traffic has dropped by 63% on main roads (The Guardian, 2020), while many public transport services have been reduced or cancelled, making cycling a more convenient option for key staff of the National Health Service (NHS). UK bike helmet brand Dashel helps them on their way by donating its helmets, matching the pledge of British brand Gocycle to provide health workers with a fleet of its e-bikes.

An additional buy-one give-one scheme invites Dashel’s customers to extend their thanks to NHS staff. This cleverly adds a meaningful, pay-it-forward factor to purchases – something that will appeal to activist consumers who see their spending as votes cast for their social values.

For more altruistic initiatives from brands big and small, and across industries, see Fashion Industry Survival Strategies and Cosmetics in the Wake of Covid-19.