By Rosie Frost
We’ve become used to the quieter roads, fewer cars and open public spaces. It feels like there is more space to breathe.
The ability to cycle without the prospect of elbowing your way through a badly designed cycle lane, or walking down the high street without the fear of being taken out by traffic, has become an unexpected bonus of the current pandemic.
Many will find it difficult to let go of that freedom if things return to normal – a revelation that has sparked a conversation throughout Europe about how we can revolutionise our cities. Backed by growing concerns about the climate crisis, this could see an increasing number of countries adopting an approach that forces cars to take a back seat. In France, Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgois already making moves to put an end to the city’s terrible traffic problem.
In the UK, the coronavirus crisis has had a measurable impact on how we think urban areas should work. One YouGov poll commissioned by Greenpeace shows that 58 per cent of people now support the introduction of cycle lanes in urban areas as well as increased funding for cycling and walking infrastructure.
A shift to walking, cycling and public transport will be crucial for Europe to meet its long term sustainability goals, says the European Environment Agency. But with decades of urban planning dedicated to making life easy for drivers, big changes must be made if alternative forms of transport are to become the preferable option.
A CITY LOOKING TO REDUCE POLLUTION
For a group in Oxfordshire, UK, changes like these are something they want to see more of their own county. Oxfordshire Liveable Streets (OLS) is an advocacy organisation looking to improve the lives of the region’s residents by creating the infrastructure to make the local area more accessible to those using active modes of transport like walking and cycling.
Continue reading: These revolutionary cities are forcing cars to take a back seat | Living