Cities across the US have seen a massive reduction in traffic because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Now, discussions are happening that could shape the future of how people live, work and travel in these cities.
It's sometimes eerie to see empty streets and highways in and around the bustling cities of the USA. This, of course, is thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown imposed on the country.
This, however, may eventually become a reality as the people in charge consider how to make cities more manageable. Many cities in Europe already have these types of regulations in place.
Talking to Bloomberg QuickTake Originals in the video below, Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst for INRIX, explained more about the 14th Street project in New York City. He said that, as much as there was a public backlash regarding the decision to implement the project, it turns out that their concerns were unfounded.
After the cars were banned from driving down the road, the two roads parallel did not become significantly congested. In fact, the extra travel time experienced during peak hours was less than a minute, whereas, the busses on 14th Street were saving around five minutes during their commute. The busses also saw an increase of 6,000 passengers a day as those who previously drove opted for public transport.
Shop owners, who were scared they would lose customers who parked their cars on the street, actually noticed an uptick in business because of the increased foot traffic and commuters on bicycles.
This model was also applied to Market Street, which had far fewer streets running parallel to it. Almost surprisingly, this project was also a success, with very similar results to the 14th Street project.
Ultimately, this model is not going to work everywhere as each location will have its own challenges, but if public transport or a safer commute via walking or cycling is a better option for a decent portion of the population, then cities will see a decline in motor vehicles. This, ultimately, will benefit citizens while it reduces greenhouse gasses.
It's not just cities that are trying out these models. Since the lockdown started, some suburbs around the country have been closing off some of their streets, with only those who live on the road allowed entry. This has offered the suburb a public place that is safe for "socially-distanced" recreation while allowing safer corridors for essential workers to travel through.
Many of these suburbs are considering keeping these 'slow-streets' indefinitely.
There are various downsides to these plans, but as we still deal with the scourge of Covid-19, there are people out there looking to make these cities and suburbs better for people to live, work and travel in, and that is a good thing.