Cycling to work in corona times? What it means for an intensive care physican.
Michael Casaer is an intensive care physician at UZ Leuven. During the corona period he cycles 12 kilometres to work every day on his speed pedelec. "In these challenging times I am happy to have my daily hour of exercise. Especially in the weeks leading up to the disaster, cycling was a more than welcome relief". "At the Intensive Medicine Department and Ambulatory Burns Centre we have a lot of experience in disaster management. However, the scale of this crisis is unseen. It may have been slower to reach us than, for example, a terrorist attack, but we have no idea how long this crisis will last. The unclear situation creates additional uncertainty and anxiety. Cycling relaxes me and on my bike I often think of solutions to problems I am confronted with professionally".
One small advantage of this terrible epidemic and the lockdown is that roads are now quieter and safer for cyclists. Unfortunately this is usually not the case. Despite improvements many cycle paths remain just strips along roads with busy car traffic. Michael suggests that large employers could advocate more for better cycling infrastructure or should decide to build it themselves.
In his twenty years of experience on intensive care the number of cycling accidents remains limited. Unfortunately, he notices that cyclists get injured because of insufficiently safe or inadequate cycling infrastructure, and risk to get run over by a truck or bus. "This can lead to major injuries and long-term treatment".
UZ Leuven encourages cycling to work by providing spacious and modern bicycle parking facilities, bicycle repair during working hours and, recently, bicycle leasing. For a year now Michael comes to work by speed pedelec every day. Before using his speed pedelec he used a city bike or his motorbike. "Now, I have to remind myself to take the motor bike out once in a while, so it doesn't get rusted".