Overline: Open letter
Headline: Covid-19 pandemic: Researchers and scientists call on government to enable safe walking and cycling

Researchers are calling on politicians to allow safe walking and cycling during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Researchers are calling on politicians to allow safe walking and cycling during the Covid-19 pandemic. istock/alvarez

Scientists from the fields of mobility research, psychology and health sciences call for the provision of a mobility infrastructure in the face of the corona pandemic that enables the required spacing and promotes people's health. As society is faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, limiting contact between potentially infected and uninfected people is a primary public health concern. This necessitates urgent changes to public spaces to enable safe mobility and physical activity.

“Encouraging cycling and walking supports the public health goal of hindering the spread of Covid-19. Everyone who cycles or walks instead of using public transit avoids the risk of infection or infecting others in busses, trains, or subways. The use of public transit should be prioritized for those who do not have other options.  

Walking and cycling should be supported by swift infrastructure adjustments, such as temporary bike lanes, modal filters for motorized vehicles, and shared street space where sidewalks for pedestrians are crowded. Speed limits should be enforced and reduced to reduce the risk of traffic accidents.

Important now is improved physical and mental health and maintaining strong immune systems. Physical activity increases the effectiveness of the immune system, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, several cancers, dementia, chronic diseases, and diabetes. These conditions affect millions of people; and can increase the risk of more serious health complications if one contracts Covid-19.

The World Health Organization, recommends at least 60 minutes a day of medium to high intensity physical activity for children and adolescents, and at least 150 minutes (at moderate physical intensity) or 75 minutes (at high physical intensity) of physical activity per week for adults. People should be encouraged to exercise at home, but outdoor walking and cycling, particularly in green space, has additional benefits for mental as well as physical health. Decision-makers should ensure parks and other greenspace are open and managed to ensure safe behavior. Temporary opening of traffic space can encourage safe physical activity while maintaining social distancing.

Governments should publish evidence-based guidelines for the creation of temporary walking and cycling infrastructure that enables social distancing and increases the health of each individual as well as overall public health.”

Here you will find the open letter and the list of the previous signatories (will be updated continuously).

*To add your name to the list of Signatories, please contact dirk [dot] vonschneidemesser [at] iass-potsdam [dot] de (with Name, Title, Affiliation, and the statement: “I consent to being publicly named as a signatory of the Letter."

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