Public transportation systems in urban cities are reducing hours and canceling services as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

Virginia Tech transportation expert Ralph Buehler says that people who need to travel should consider alternate modes of transportation to not only practice social distancing, but foster healthy lifestyles and mental well-being.

Buehler is an associate professor of urban affairs and planning in the School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. Working in the greater Washington, D.C., metro region, his research areas focus on understanding individual travel behavior and the sustainability of transport systems in urban areas.

“While staying at home and following government recommendations for social distancing is the first order of priorities, if you have to take a trip and do not want to ride public transport, or if public transport has reduced service, the bicycle can be a good alternative,” said Buehler.

“Average trip lengths for public transport trips are around three miles (1.8 miles for trolley buses, 2 miles for streetcar, 4.8 miles for subway and 3.8 miles for buses). These trip distances can be easily covered by bicycle. Even average bus speeds of 10 miles per hour can be achieved by non-sport cyclists. For shorter distances walking is an option too.”

There are clear physical and mental health benefits to physical activities, such as cycling. So it is definitely good to get active on a bicycle. In addition, individuals who do not want to share space with others may feel more at ease on a bicycle,” said Buehler.