• Frederick Rickmann

Corona and the new shape of cities

Quite suddenly, under the corona crisis, our city streets have been rediscovered. Traffic has vanished in the lock-downs and people have taken to walking and cycling around. In the process we have rediscovered our own cities and the pleasure of just being able to walk.

The absence of traffic has changed the sound of cities as well. The roar of the traffic has given way to bird songs and for the first time in many decades, the air has been clean and free of much of the pollution that has smogged up the sky.

City after city is implementing bike lanes and pedestrian zones even now at an accelerated rate. The EU capital of Brussels is building 40 km of cycle paths. Milan in Italy is rezoning 35 km of vehicular roadway to cyclists and pedestrians in the inner city. Car-free streets and bridges are being designated in London. These are many more initiatives are achieving what were only dreams a few months ago.

Now we can actually fast-forward the future. This means not only better cities but a massively more healthy physical environment. Better planned cities won't solve the climate crisis on their own, but the movement in that direction will certainly be a part of that. Making cities liveable again and reducing the dependence of motor vehicles means that cities become the key to a solution rather than being a brick in the wall of problems.

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