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More Utahns Walking, Biking During Pandemic, UDOT Says

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Recent data from the Utah Department of Transportation shows a significant leap in walking and biking amid COVID-19.

The trend is not only good for reduced traffic, but it has a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of the community.

One Utah family in particular tells KSL it has been life-changing for them.

“I went over a month without being in a car, which is crazy because before the pandemic I was in a car every single day,” said Tristin West with her husband, Mike, and their two young children.

Now, the Wests say they are biking every single day.

“We’ve become a biking family,” said Tristin.

Resisting travel right now, the married couple’s investment in a cargo bike fills their son, Jayson, who is non verbal, with excitement.

“Anytime we are in the bike he gets this big smile on his face and he just squeals and babbles and he makes everyone smile as we are passing by because he’s like, ‘Whoo!’” said Tristin.

Jayson has a rare genetic cranial facial syndrome called MCTT Syndrome. The Wests said he’s one of 25 in the world diagnosed. At just 8 years old, he’s already overcome three brain surgeries, two cranial surgeries, and more than 20 other surgeries. His biggest daily battle is headaches, and biking offers some relief.

“He can have a really rough day with headaches, and we can get him in that bike and he may have a few in the bike but he’s just happy for those few moments,” said Tristin.

The Wests are among many Utahns choosing to be more active in the outdoors, according UDOT’s John Gleason.

“In some trails we are seeing a 300% or more increase in use from last year to this year,” said Gleason. “It’s a great thing for your body, your mind, and it also is a wonderful thing for congestion on our roads.”

During a year that has brought so much heartache, the Wests have found something that fills theirs.

“He’s gone through a lot of challenges in his life, and to see the happiness that brings for him is, there’s nothing better than that,” Mike said about Jayson.

UDOT also said with more people out walking and biking, there is always a shared responsibility for drivers and pedestrians to be on the lookout for each other.

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