- During the pandemic that was a reduction in car use, public transport shut down and there was a major increase in working from home. This caused a shift from physical mobility to digital communication. It also contributed to a decrease in air pollution and emissions.
- People may be hesitant to go back to public transportation, having been encouraged to use this form of transportation prior to the pandemic and then encouraged to stay away from public transportation. People have preferred to be in their own vehicle “bubble”.
- Working from home increased exponentially during the pandemic, which has redefined what ‘workforce’ looks like in the corporate world. It seems that working from home will be an inelastic trend as it has been seen to be popular as well as productive, with a need to determine the right approach in the future. People may work from home with a few days in the office each week.
- The diminished availability of public transport affected essential workers and lower income households. The working from home trend didn’t apply to essential workers who have to work on-site in hospitals, supermarkets, etc. The lack of public transportation had health and economic consequences for essential workers resulting in longer times to get to and from work or no availability at all.
- There may be a move to regional offices rather than city centre offices. This will have a positive impact on traffic problems but how will city centres be repurposed?
Movement and Mobility
Summary of the Movement and Mobility discussion from the previous consultation in January 2021
What are your thoughts on this topic? What do you think the solutions to this topic are as we move out of the pandemic?
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The COVID-19 pandemic introduced several transport-related challenges:
* Contagion risk to travelers. All shared vehicles present risks: buses, trains and airplanes can have confined vehicles and stations. Automobiles used for taxis, ridehailing, or carrying family and friends tend to be even more confined and have numerous touch services (handles, arm rests and seats). Transit risks can be reduced by limiting crowding, appropriate cleaning and sanitizing, employee and passenger hygiene, operator protection, and operational improvements that reduce delay. Taxi, ridehailing and motorists carrying passengers can reduce risks by limiting crowding, cleaning, sanitizing and hygiene. Taxi and ridehailing companies can offer sick leave so drivers are less likely to work when they may be contagious. Delivery services reduce but do not eliminate risk since couriers handle many people’s goods. Walking, bicycling and telework are generally the safest and most affordable travel modes, making walkable urban neighborhoods resilient, particularly if they are designed for minimal crowding and sociable distancing.
* Pandemic control may require restrictions on travel, commercial and social activities, plus isolation and sometimes quarantine. This can be addressed by providing shopping opportunities, delivery services and teleshopping; adequate housing, with private outdoor space (balconies, decks, yards); better opportunities for outdoor activity (such as expanded walking areas); community support and mental health services; and domestic violence response.
* The COVID-19 pandemic reduced many people’s incomes, created severe economic problems for many households. Even before this pandemic, many low- and moderate-income households suffered from excessive housing and transportation costs. Communities can increase affordability by improving active transport (walking and bicycling) and micro-mobility (electric scooters and bicycles) through improved sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, complete streets policies, traffic calming and streetscaping; improve public transport services so vehicles and stations are less crowded, cleaner, better ventilated and less delayed; and support development of walkable urban villages, called 15-minute neighborhoods, where most common services and activities are available within a 15 minute walk or 10-minute bike ride.
Pandemics are just one of many risks communities face, and generally not the most important, so it would be inefficient to implement contagious control strategies that increase other problems, for example, by reducing physical activity and social interactions, or increasing vehicle travel and therefore traffic casualties and pollution emissions. Many “win-win” solutions can help reduce pandemic risks and achieve other community goals, such as increasing affordability, physical activity, and community livability, and reducing traffic problems and pollution emissions.
For more information see my report, “Pandemic-Resilient Community Planning: Practical Ways to Help Communities Prepare for, Respond to, and Recover from Pandemics and Other Economic, Social and Environmental Shocks” (www.vtpi.org/PRCP.pdf).
Excellent post, Todd. Really educational and insightful. Thank you!
We must go beyond multi-modal transportation systems, and build multi-modal communities. The design and layout of cities dictate whether it is possible, or not, to walk, bike or use transit. True multi-modal neighborhoods or cities are designed for diversity and inclusiveness.