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Cycling Through the Pandemic

Tactical Urbanism and the Implementation of Pop-Up Bike Lanes in the Time of COVID-19

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About this book

This open access book provides insight on how the tactical urbanism has the capacity to influence change in mobility practices such as cycling. COVID-19 crisis prompted the public authorities to rethink the use of public space in order to develop means of transport that are both efficient and adapted to the health context and their effects on cycling practices in Europe, North, and South America. Its contributors collectively reveal and evidence through policies analysis, mapping, and innovative qualitative analysis bridging video and interviews, how those new infrastructures and policies can be a trigger for change in a context of mobility transition.

This book provides an important element on the way local authorities can act in a quicker and more agile way. While some decisions are specific to the context of the beginning of the pandemic, the analysis offers lessons on the way to implement the transition toward a low-carbon mobility, on the importance of processes based on trials and errors, on the political stakes of reallocating road space.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Open Access

Chapter 1. Introduction: Has Cycling Got a Boost from the Pandemic?
Abstract
As the COVID-19 pandemic surged around the world at the beginning of 2020, all aspects of life were disrupted. This book looks back to spring 2020 and the end of the first lockdown, when many cities around the globe took measures to give cycling more space. It scrutinises the political and material responses to increase cycling during the pandemic. The introduction presents the 9 chapters as well as some of the lessons learned.
Nathalie Ortar, Patrick Rérat

Open Access

Chapter 2. ‘School Streets’ and the Adaptation of London’s State-Led Tactical Urbanism During Covid-19
Abstract
During the Covid-19 pandemic, London rapidly expanded its scheme of temporary School Streets closures. This represented an acceleration of pre-existing tendencies in the city towards using the methods of ‘Tactical Urbanism.’ Through a document review and a series of interviews with practitioners, this case study explores the varied ways in which different levels of government acted ‘tactically’ in the implementation London’s Covid-19 School Streets. It also considers the way this example of a state-led scheme intersects with debates around the concept of Tactical Urbanism and its increasing adoption by local and municipal governments.
Asa Thomas

Open Access

Chapter 3. Public Action in Times of Crisis: Trajectories of Cycling Policies in Four French Cities
Abstract
French local authorities developed over 500 km of pop-up cycling infrastructure to face the Covid-19 pandemic. These experiments raise questions about the impact of a crisis situation on public decision-making and policies. This chapter reports on a comprehensive analysis of the roll-out of the Covid cycle lanes in four metropolises—Paris, Lyon, Montpellier, and Rennes—with a particular attention to the factors of continuity or interruption pre-and post-crisis. It retraces the involvement in collective action of the different actors during the crisis peak, the reactions sparked by these measures, and the status of the temporary infrastructure in the local mobility policy landscape a year after it was introduced. It shows that the crisis has served more as an accelerator than as a course changer for public policies introducing elements of change for the future by slightly modifying the actors’ interests, representations, and instruments.
Mariane Thébert, Manon Eskenazi, Matthieu Adam, Guy Baudelle, Laurent Chapelon, Adrien Lammoglia, Patricia Lejoux, Sébastien Marrec, Adrien Poisson, Michaël Zimmermann

Open Access

Chapter 4. Press Discourse on Cycling Before, During, and After the First Covid-19 Lockdown in France. The Rise of the User-Group Voice
Abstract
In this chapter we explore what a “crisis” event (here the first lockdown related to Covid-19 in France) means in terms of (i) the balance of power among actors expressing themselves in the daily press and of (ii) the main messages that the more prominent of these actors disseminate. In order to analyze changes in press discourse on city cycling in France, we examine a corpus that spans the period from September 2019 to September 2020, i.e., six months before the first lockdown (March 17, 2020) and five months after the end of the month-long lockdown (May 11, 2020). The discourse analysis has been conducted on 578 press articles from five regional newspapers (Rennes, Montpellier, Besançon, Paris, and Lyon) and one national press title (Libération). This entire corpus was analyzed using textometry, a computer-assisted method for analyzing quantitative textual data. This enables us to identify a discursive change. Two elements characterize that change: (i) the balance between actors who “talk” or who “are talked about” in the articles shifts gradually. During this period, cycling organizations appear to be the actors whose position is strengthened in the media discourse; (ii) these actors are strengthened in their traditional mission of lobbying for cycling, but with a focus on new issues (e.g., wearing a face-covering or not for cyclists, calling for the reopening of green public spaces to allow the transit of bicycles, etc.). The first Covid-19 wave appears to have been the accelerator of a wider process that has led cycling organizations to professionalize since the 2000s, to move away from ecologist, anarchist, and anticapitalist discourses and to promote instead the idea of everyday cycling as a tool for improving public health. The Covid-19 crisis has further established cycling organizations as reference actors for bicycle mobility in French cities.
Thomas Buhler, Matthieu Adam, Hakim Ramdani, Pauline Jobard

Open Access

Chapter 5. Tactical Urbanism to Develop Cycling Infrastructures: The Implementation of COVID Cycle Lanes in Switzerland
Abstract
After the first COVID-19 wave, the end of the first lockdown represented a window of opportunity to develop vélomobility and to reallocate car space. In this context, Geneva and Lausanne implemented new, pop-up cycle infrastructures that came to be known as ‘COVID cycle lanes’. While such processes were time-specific, local authorities seem to have learned new ways of intervening and experimenting with public spaces in terms of temporary urbanism. It is worth noting, however, that most other Swiss cities did not take such measures. First, this chapter analyses how and why Geneva and Lausanne played tactically with the legal framework in order to implement COVID cycle lanes. We identify the conditions that made such measures possible (urgency, the low quality of existing cycling infrastructures, ‘political champions’, and a desire to develop cycling). We then turn to the way the new cycle lanes were received, including oppositions (mainly from right-wing conservative milieus, car lobbyists, and retailers). Finally, we analyse the reasons for which other cities—such as Lucerne and Zurich—did not implement such measures, despite demands from some local organizations and politicians.
Hannah Widmer, Noëlle Guinard, Patrick Rérat

Open Access

Chapter 6. Temporary Urbanism in Pandemic Times—Disruption and Continuity of Public Action in Montreal
Abstract
Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Montreal and its boroughs quickly deployed temporary facilities aimed at sharing public space and promoting active mobility (cycling and walking). This so-called strategy of “temporary urbanism” is common to North American cities from the spring of 2020. Several inventories of such measures demonstrate this. However, few of these databases open up the black box of the decision-making processes and levers that the actors have implemented to deploy this urbanism. Thus, the chapter is devoted to these processes, explaining the Montreal case in detail. It reveals the main characteristics of Montreal’s public action. As such, it highlights the local particularities of it, considered at the same time as agile, a source of numerous conflicts but also very adaptative. To conclude, we emphasize on two dimensions. First, the pandemic demonstrates that Montreal public actors had resources to respond to the crisis, rooted in action routines but also in a capacity for innovation. Secondly, that this incremental dimension of temporary urbanism is now considered by public actors as an opportunity to implement sustainable changes, in the longer term, through the deployment of a “transitory urbanism”.
Florence Paulhiac Scherrer

Open Access

Chapter 7. Pop-Up Bike Lanes and Temporary Shared Spaces in Vienna During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Abstract
Similar to many cities, Vienna (Austria) implemented measures to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this chapter, the implementation process of the temporary shared spaces and “pop-up” bike lanes is described, and the evaluation results regarding their usage as well as the political decisions of their early removal are presented. With video recordings and manual counting, we found that pop-up bike lanes were well adopted by cyclists, but temporary shared spaces have largely failed to attract pedestrians. The possible reasons are discussed as well as the criteria for better implementation of temporary walking and cycling infrastructure in the future. Drawing on the multiple streams theory, we link the decision of suspending all temporary infrastructures to the political situation at the time with pop-up bike lanes as a highly controversial issue before the local elections in October 2020 and a change of government afterward. We conclude that this presents a lost opportunity to permanently redistribute road space for active mobility, but future initiatives could learn from the Vienna case by thinking more strategically about political aspects.
Harald Frey, Barbara Laa, Ulrich Leth

Open Access

Chapter 8. The Spatial Dimension of “Pop-Up Cycle Paths” in Metropolitan Areas a Comparative Study of France and Colombia
Abstract
This chapter goes over how Covid-19 pandemic impacted in space and time on cycling infrastructure in four French cities (Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, and Rennes) which we have compared with Bogotá (Colombia). It shows that local authorities implemented different strategies to develop their networks during this unusual period running from 2020 to 2021. The sizeable task of researching, refining, harmonising, and comparing several sources was formalised to ensure reproducibility, and a typology drawn up to compare the five cities. Certain local authorities installed equipment mainly in central spaces, while others also extended infrastructure to the outskirts, in certain cases duplicating pre-existing cycling facilities. In some cities, such as Montpellier, Grenoble, and even more markedly Bogotá, low-income districts also benefited to a certain extent from pop-up cycling infrastructure. Concerning the extent of coverage, two years after the beginning of the pandemic, most of the pop-up cycling infrastructure in the cities under study had been dismantled, or else retained on the already dense parts of the network. In several cases pop-up tracks were used to make up for missing links in the pre-existing network. They also sometimes provided a way of improving certain connections, but given the small number of pop-up paths which became lasting facilities, they have not fundamentally expanded the scale of the networks as the pandemic recedes, nor have they made the cities significantly more cycle-friendly overall.
Florent Demoraes, Nicolas Ovtracht, Kamila Tabaka, Sarah Duché, Boris Mericskay, Camille Sieper

Open Access

Chapter 9. Cycling in Bogotá During a Pandemic. The Influence of Tactical Urbanism and Perceived Insecurity on Bicycle Usage
Abstract
This chapter first analyses the impacts of the 2020 health crisis on bicycle policies, and second, the adaptations and reactions of the city’s bicycle users, in Bogotá. The capital of Colombia has been the first city in the world to create a network of pop-up bikeways to encourage citizens to avoid public transportation. These were inspired by tactical urbanism, which enabled its quick installation and adaptation. They were set up on main avenues, to serve low-income neighbourhoods, where remote working could not be implemented. This new policy has been used as a tool by Bogotá’s Mayor’s office to show its capacity to handle the health crisis and its commitment for more sustainable mobility. The chapter is based on a field investigation (interviews and mobile ethnography with daily cyclists), an online survey, interviews with mobility experts (academics, institutional agents, activists), and public data on urban mobility. It draws the chronological evolution of public policy, the cartography of its impact for bicycle use, and a detailed analysis of what is at stake. It also sheds light on the limits of tactical urbanism that was implemented during the health crisis.
Maëlle Lucas, Vincent Gouëset, Florent Demoraes

Open Access

Chapter 10. Changing Cycling Practices and Covid Cycle Lanes in Five French Cities
Abstract
To encourage a modal shift toward cycling during and after the 2020 lockdown the French national government introduced a €120 million budget set of financial incentives, the “coup de pouce vélo.” Meanwhile, inspired by tactical urbanism, city authorities created cycle lanes and tracks, called “coronapistes” (Covid cycle lanes), on a permanent or pop-up basis. This response to the pandemic was driven by a unique set of spatial, social, and political configurations. In this chapter, we analyze the way in which both experienced and novice cyclists made use of the temporary facilities that were introduced in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic in four cities—Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, and Rennes—and contrast this with the case of Saint-Étienne, where the Covid cycle lanes were removed at the end of the spring 2020 lockdown. The chapter aims to observe the effects of public policies on cycling practices and the social representations associated with them, in particular on changes in use in contexts characterized by different relationships to cycling. To capture the ways in which the Covid cycle lanes have been received and used, we employed ride-along interviews, an in situ and qualitative mobile method.
Nathalie Ortar, Laurent Chapelon, Sandrine Depeau, Benoît Feildel, Adrien Lammoglia, Adrien Poisson, David Sayagh, Léa Barbé, Andoni Hentgen-Izaguirre
Metadata
Title
Cycling Through the Pandemic
Editors
Nathalie Ortar
Patrick Rérat
Copyright Year
2024
Electronic ISBN
978-3-031-45308-3
Print ISBN
978-3-031-45307-6
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-45308-3