If the pandemic has taught us anything – it’s how well we’re able to adapt to situations which we have no control over. 2020 has been a strange year for many, and despite all the tragedy and hard times, positives have emerged from the places that we’ve least expected it.
One of the core benefits to occur during the lockdown is the relief on the environment. There were less planes in the sky and less cars on the road. Cars didn’t require filling up for months and fuel prices plummeted. Pollution levels dropped rapidly and we were in a state of what felt like (at some points) a breath of fresh air. Although these effects weren’t long-lasting, as once life picked back up once again when the lockdown restrictions eased, there are still lasting lessons that were learnt during the lockdown. We now know what we are capable of and how much each of us as individuals contribute to change.
Here is a list of the top teachings that we can take away from the lockdown, for a more mobile metropolitan:
1. Public space is valuable;
Remote working has become the new norm for many. This highlights the fact that cities should be run for people – and not cars. In urban areas and bustling cities, public transport is your friend – especially with fewer bodies than there used to be. Make the most of quieter trains and busses – who knows how long they will last?! This period is a crucial time for employers, mobility experts and planners to work together to find solutions that help us move towards a safe recovery.
2. Essential workers are valued!
What was known to some of us already is now common knowledge. Those who work in the public transport sector are an irreplaceable asset and long-story-short; the country cannot function without them. When the majority of us stopped working – on furlough or even those who were working from home – rail workers, bus drivers and cab drivers were one of the core groups that kept us going and kept the economy moving. Confidence in public transport has been restored as many relied on it for essential travel.
3. Respiratory health and an active lifestyle are now more important than ever.
Studies and research suggest that pollution and obesity significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 severity. Walking, cycling and using around the city is a great start to get exercise in without even noticing. Using trains and the tube, of course, promote walking (sometimes even running) so this is definitely encouraged. Improvements to cycle lanes and walking space need to be considered in the busier areas – to ensure social distancing can take place and more of us feel comfortable enough to opt for alternative travel systems.
4. Digital tools are a step in the right direction for the future of public transport.
For years, mobility experts have been discussing MaaS (Mobility as a Service) to promote a multimodal lifestyle. Apps providing information on less crowded options in real time can help to move forward – with notifications or alerts programmed to the user. Of course, digital literacy and accessibility are also needed to make the most of these tools.
5. Courier alternatives:
Online shopping has been one of the key front-runners of a moving economy during lockdown. But what about the emissions? Cargo bikes are a great way to deliver parcels in cities with zero-emission effects! Bike transports works for various food deliveries – is it time to look at alternatives for parcel services?
6. Protecting the vulnerable.
Some are more vulnerable than others – the importance of assisting those who need a little bit of help is much clearer now that we’ve had time to stop and think about it. Let us build cities with barrier-free transport systems because a city accessible for a person in a wheelchair is a city accessible for everyone.
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To read more about European Mobility Week: https://mobilityweek.eu/home/