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The Pandemic Bike Boom Hits in Some Unexpected American Cities

Los Angeles and Houston are hardly cycling capitals. But both saw surges in biking after Covid-19 began, according to new data from the fitness app Strava. 

Los Angeles bike trips were up 93% in May 2020 over May 2019, according to data from fitness app Strava. 

Los Angeles bike trips were up 93% in May 2020 over May 2019, according to data from fitness app Strava. 

Photographer: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

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Coupled with the effects of a warming planet, Covid-19 has produced little good news this year. Yet the two crises did pave the way for one positive social shift: a bike boom, including in some unlikely places. New data from Strava, the fitness tracking app used by 68 million global users, shows that several U.S. cities saw significant year-over-year growth in both bike trips and cyclists in much of 2020. 

Among the six U.S. cities for which Strava provided data, Houston and Los Angeles, two sprawling metropolises where just .5% and 1% of the respective populations biked to work in pre-pandemic times, stand out. In Houston, the total volume of cycling trips in Houston was 138% higher in May 2020 than in May 2019. In Los Angeles, the jump was 93%. Unlike their peers, these two places also saw cycling increases in April, the first full month of widespread stay-at-home order and economic shutdowns.