Promoting walking and challenges for walkability during the pandemic!

The coronavirus disruption has set off a multitude of debates of how the global pandemic will reshape our cities. We share a few with you here. With a focus on mobility some have asked if coronavirus may be transportation industry's great opportunity while others point to possible negative effects in the long run as cars may be viewed as the safer transport option.

When traffic is halted due to closed retail and offices the disparity in distribution of space on our streets between motorized and non-motorized transport becomes apparent. Some authors announce the death of the avoidable car trip in the US while others state that now is the best time for cities to take away space from cars.

Improvements that walking advocates tried to change for years are now happening over night – such as the automation of pedestrian 'beg-buttons' at traffic lights. The Covid-19 disruption is also a time when advocates and administrators in cities worldwide are working hard to reclaim street space for walking and cycling during the pandemic.

Citizens in Bristol, United Kingdom, have started to spray-paint directions for joggers to use the road so everyone has enough space. This issue seems to be quite common as even the New York Times also released an opinion piece on the "Rules for Using the Sidewalk During the Coronavirus".

Yet, appropriate Physical Distancing is also a luxury that many people in the world cannot afford right now. For example about one sixth of India's urban population – 74 million people – lives in the country's slums where Social Distancing is physically and economically impossible. So the pandemic lays bare many issues of transport equity, with walking at the heart of many areas where we need to improve. Walk21 will continue to put pressure on these issues and lobby for improvements in walking infrastructure for the time during the Covid-19 pandemic and thereafter.

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