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Covid-19 recovery should include more bike paths, says academic

Walking and cycling can help stop the spread of coronavirus and reduce carbon emissions

Employers will need to provide bicycle parking and state governments will be required to create more cycling and walking paths as Australians gradually return to work after Covid-19 restrictions, an Adelaide urban planning academic has said.

Andrew Allan, a transport policy analyst with the University of South Australia, suggests that people may choose to avoid public transport because of difficulties with social distancing.

He says mandatory use of masks and gloves by commuters could be introduced by state governments to help minimise health risks. However, many people may want to avoid these risks by walking or cycling to work or working from home.

“I expect we will see a reduction in peak travel demand, purely due to some people electing to work from home either part-time or permanently, and many employers agreeing to flexible working times,” he said in a university statement.

“Sadly, some people don’t have jobs to return to, or face a reduction in working hours, and this could easily account for a 15 to 20 per cent reduction in travel demand.”

Allan said that cities needed to offer more alternatives to cars and public transport.

“Motor vehicle emissions exacerbate global warming and governments will need to withstand public pressure to provide more car parks if we are serious [about] tackling carbon emissions. Instead, the focus should be on bolstering public transport and improving the infrastructure for cycling and walking.”