Ordinarily, the month of May in Bedford brings Safe Routes to School Walk and Roll to School days. And Healthy Bedford’s Active Transit Spring initiative promotes and highlights opportunities to be more active here in our own community. However, this year the COVID-19 response has left schools and many businesses closed or restructured, and public transportation ridership has dropped substantially.
Despite the many difficult adjustments we are making in our daily lives, we are reminded that walking, biking, and wheeling are independent and resilient transportation options that are healthy for our bodies, minds, and our communities.
By definition, active transportation allows people to build physical activity into everyday life by providing resources, education, and infrastructure in order to walk and bike to various destinations. Even a moderate amount of daily exercise has an impressive range of benefits to both physical and mental health. In addition, by enabling people to drive less, active transportation can reduce vehicular traffic and improve air quality.
At this time, bicycling and walking rates are up across the country as people shift modes from public transit and vehicular travel to biking and walking, and as residents seek to maintain physical and mental health while gyms and fitness studios are closed. Nationwide, trail usage is up over 200% compared to this time last year.
Even in locations that have closed non-essential businesses, bike shops are deemed essential.
Air pollution is down in many locations around the country due to reduced levels of driving. This data affirms why many of us choose active travel modes: walking, biking, and wheeling provide a sense of independence, an opportunity to improve our health, reduce the impact on our planet, and are reliable ways to get where we need to go. While the COVID-19 response is ongoing, please be mindful of wearing a face covering when out in public. While you may think you will not come within 6 feet of others, there will be others enjoying the trail, sidewalk, and/or bike path with you and there will times when that six-foot barrier cannot be maintained.
This year during Active Transit Spring, we can focus on skill-building to help your household learn pedestrian and bicycle safety skills in order to be more active here in Bedford now and into the future: