COVID-19 will remain with us for a while. While the restrictions are likely to eased and many hope to return to the office, it is unlikely that we will return to public transport in numbers soon. Physical distancing will reduce the capacity of public transport to just 16%, and this may be best reserved for health workers. The roads were already clogged before COVID-19 and more people driving to work is not going to be an option.
COVID-19 could – and hopefully will – see a shift to more cycling and commuting by bike. A recent study, Keeping Australians safe as they travel to work during the Pandemic, suggests that we consider other transport alternatives in the ACT to maintain physical distancing: 6,100 people would avoid public transport or travel outside of the peak period, 5,900 would now be working from home, and 2,600 would be riding to work.
On the ABS Census day 2016, the number of Canberrans riding to work was 5,366 or 3% of the population. An increase of 2,600 cyclists as a result of COVID-19 is an increase of 48%.
The study recommends the “roll out of emergency, temporary pop up lanes.” The ACT Government has yet to commit to this.