How did outdoor biking and walking change during COVID-19?: A case study of three U.S. cities

PLoS One. 2021 Jan 20;16(1):e0245514. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245514. eCollection 2021.


A growing body of literature suggests that restrictive public health measures implemented to control COVID-19 have had negative impacts on physical activity. We examined how Stay Home orders in Houston, New York City, and Seattle impacted outdoor physical activity patterns, measured by daily bicycle and pedestrian count data. We assessed changes in activity levels between the period before and during Stay Home orders. Across all three cities, we found significant changes in bicycle and pedestrian counts from the period before to the period during Stay Home orders. The direction of change varied by location, likely due to differing local contexts and outbreak progression. These results can inform policy around the use of outdoor public infrastructure as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Cities / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Walking*

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.