More people are biking on trails amid pandemic, but bicycle deaths are up

Photo credit Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Activity on the 335 miles of Circuit Trails throughout the Delaware Valley has increased dramatically amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Overall, usage of the Circuit Trails has gone up. … It depends on the trail, anywhere from 50% to 150%,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition and executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. 

Many of the trails utilize greenways along rivers and streams or unused railroad beds, expanding across nine counties. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission had the idea to create a continuous greenway throughout the region for people to bike and hike. 

Clark Stuart said more people are using the trails for biking and walking, but also to get to work, which she believes shows the trails are a regional asset amid the pandemic.

She’s compelling those who use the trails to contact local and state lawmakers to urge them to provide more funding and more trails. The goal is to reach 800 miles of trail by 2040.

While a recent surge in trail usage is commendable, it comes with a disheartening ramification: The number of bicycle deaths are also on the rise.

“Four bicyclists have died on our roadways, and this is a very unprecedented number of deaths in a very short period of time,” said Clark Stuart.

The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia is holding a memorial ride on Sunday for those four bicyclists: 

Sam Ozer, died June 21

Nadir Nafis Holloman Jr. (Lil Naddy), July 7

Will Lindsay, July 12

Michael Hackman, July 22

“Three bicyclists killed is less than 30 days is unacceptable,” read a statement on the coalition’s event page. “All of these roads —  and countless others — were not designed for city living and have long since needed engineering changes to keep motorists under control. … Action is needed now to make these and other roads safe with better designs.”