While planning out strategies for relaxing lockdown measures, cities in Europe are thinking of ways to reimagine their biking and walking infrastructure. Biking and walking is also recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their recent guidance on transportation during Covid-19.
With walking/biking in focus, cities are forwarding strategies to decrease driving and vehicle miles traveled, and encourage people to meet their minimum physical activity goals, both while keeping a safe distance from one another. Additionally, these efforts are directed to address concerns related to a potential increase in traffic congestion and automobile use post lockdown, which is not only detrimental to the environment, but is also unsustainable from an equity and land development standpoint.
Cities like Milan, Paris, Brussels and many more have given extra road space to bicyclists and pedestrians during the lockdown. And now, they are looking into making these changes permanent post lockdown. One of the most common transportation improvements that are considered and planned for as a part of these efforts are, bike lanes.
Milan, Italy is planning to convert existing road space to create bike lanes and expand sidewalks to provide additional space for bicyclists and pedestrians, including installing over 20 miles of bike lanes over the summer.
Paris, France plans to ready around 400 miles of bikeways by the time lockdown restrictions ease, including short-term pop-up bikeways called “corona cycleways”. Prior to Covid-19, Paris’s Mayor Hidalgo vowed to make every street in the city bike-friendly by 2024. Fear of traffic congestion post lockdown has aided to accelerate the Mayor’s “Plan Vélo” that transforms Paris into a greener, bike and pedestrian-friendly city.
Brussels, Belgium plans to designate its downtown as a priority zone for bicyclists and pedestrians, transforming 25 miles of mainly car-oriented roads into bike paths, which will also connect to the region’s existing bike network. These changes will be implemented alongside Brussel’s most recent pedestrian plan, a plan that will transform its downtown into a more attractive destination for pedestrians.
Many cities in Europe and around the world have transformed their streets to provide more space for bicyclists and pedestrians to move around while adhering to social distancing. Many creative ideas including pop-up bike lanes, pop-up bike parking areas, and restricted access to streets have been implemented across the world. For cities, this is a great opportunity to transform their streets into a greener, more bike and pedestrian-friendly environment that responds to Covid-19 social distancing requirements in addition to their active transportation and health plans.
 World Health Organization. Moving Around During The COVID-19 Outbreak. Moving Around During The COVID-19 Outbreak. World Health Organization. 2020.
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