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In fact, over the initial lockdown months, reductions of CO2 emissions ranging from 8% up to 75% have been observed in several European cities. During a public health pandemic, never before has it been so clear that the way we travel directly impacts our health.
A pressing challenge for those building our cities is the need to design places that ensure safe travel and encourages healthy active living. Due to the current restrictions across the world, this meansadapting our streets so that people can walk and cycle while maintaining physical distance, and prioritising sustainable mobility choices to keep harmful air pollution level down.
The Knowledge Brief, ‘Mobility post-pandemic: A strategy for healthier cities’, outlines eight clear actions for how cities can adapt their streetscapes to encourage safe and sustainable travel. The publication provides multiple case studies where cities are reacting to the impacts of travel and adpating to needs of the citizens.
It appears that more flexible and adaptable uses of space and services are becoming much more commonplace. Tactical urbanism can allow cities to implement short-term and simple actions to test whether these can be rolled out as long-term measures. A good example is Bogota in Colombia. Following the Coronavirus outbreak, the city was one of the first to implement pop-up bike lanes. Over 76km of temporary bike lanes were laid out in place of car lanes on the main streets, adding to the 550km of permanent cycling lanes. The authorities have also designed specific bus routes for health personnel and deployed 400 free e-bikes to help health workers get to their jobs.
COVID-19 has presented a global challenge which has brought people, cities and countries together, in a global bid to limit the impact of the virus. Looking at the uncertain path that lies ahead of us, we must all be proactive in shaping life after lockdown.
It’s time to give our city spaces back to people. UITP has launched a sector-wide campaign, ‘Back to Better Mobility’. As cities begin to rebuild in the aftermath of total lockdown, we must take this unique and historic opportunity to build back better with better mobility options, particularly for people in cities. Check out the dedicated website for more information and to get involved. The future is in your hands!