T&E: Cities look to cycling as the safe, socially-distanced way to travel
Cities in several countries are embarking on a rearrangement of urban streets in the hope of encouraging cyclists and pedestrians to travel while respecting social distancing. The most ambitious so far is Milan, which plans to transform 35km of streets this summer, and the French environment minister has commissioned a strategy for urban rearrangement of Paris to help both during the coronavirus lockdown and in the post-lockdown relaxation.
One of the big casualties of people’s and governments’ responses to Covid-19 has been public transport, because of the difficulty of social distancing and the risk of the virus spreading. While car transport remains low due to current restrictions on movement, there are fears that car use will rise after lockdown, whereas public transport will take a long time to recover even after restrictions are lifted.
A number of cities around the world have taken temporary measures to encourage cycling. Brussels says it will declare the inner city centre (known as the Pentagon) a pedestrian and cyclist priority zone, with cars, trams and buses limited to 20 km/h. Berlin has created new cycle routes, in some cases by stopping car traffic, and the British government has said it is lifting restrictions on car-free streets to allow key workers to cycle to work more safely.