SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation reports one of the upsides in the COVID-19 pandemic is a reduction in motor vehicle traffic and a significant increase in cycling and walking.
"There are very few bright spots during the pandemic, but if you have to point to one, this is a great one," said UDOT spokesman John Gleason.
Mike and Tristin West, the parents in a Utah family of four, have made cycling their family's primary mode of transportation. The Wests have an 8-year-old son, Jayson, who has a debilitating genetic condition that makes him unable to speak or ride a bike on his own.
A family friend let the Wests borrow a tricycle cargo bike to see how the family would like it. When Mike and Tristin heard Jayson's squeal of approval, they knew they would become a cargo bike family.
"Anytime we’re on the bike, he gets a big smile on his face and he just squeals and he just babbles and he makes everyone smile as they’re passing by because he’s like: ‘Whooo!' He just gets so excited anytime he’s on the bike," Tristin West said.
Although switching to cycling as the primary mode of transportation isn't a realistic option for many families, the Wests said it's been fantastic for them.
Meanwhile, UDOT officials are encouraged with this year's marked increase in cycling and walking, and their engineers hope to make roadway improvements for pedestrians and cyclists in many of UDOT's major projects.
According to data compiled by Strava, biking trips in Utah are up by 52 percent this year. The Mapleton Lateral Canal Trail saw a 314 percent increase in traffic in April of this year, when compared with April of 2019.