As cities around the world have gone into lockdown and instituted social distancing measures to slow the spread of the covid19 pandemic, something unexpected has happened: We’ve gotten an impromptu demonstration of the benefits of living with fewer cars and less driving. Seething gridlock has vanished, smoggy skies have cleared, global carbon emissions are way down, and forward-thinking mayors are rapidly re-programming their streets to give human beings the space that once belonged to motor vehicles. Is the world witnessing the wrenching, difficult birth of the car-free city? Or are we merely living in the brief moment before cities snap back into even deeper automobile dependence, the car serving as the ultimate personal protective equipment? Plus: We hear from City of Oakland Transportation Director Ryan Russo.
You can find the full transcript of this episode here.
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New Yorkers Are Thinking About Getting Cars Because of COVID-19. (Vice)
Oakland banishing cars from 74 miles of city streets. ‘Oakland Slow Streets’ will open 10% of city’s roads for cyclists, pedestrians (Mercury News)
Urban planner Mike Lydon is keeping track of all of the cities launching #Covid19Streets.
Cities Close Streets to Cars, Opening Space for Social Distancing (New York Times)
To help get essential workers around, cities are revising traffic patterns, suspending public transit fares, and making more room for bikes and pedestrians (CityLab)
This episode was edited by Ali Lemer. Newsreel voiceover by Mike Rock. Parody ad voiceover by Leora Kaye. Newsreel and parody ad production by Curtis Fox.
Find us on Twitter: @TheWarOnCars, Aaron Naparstek @Naparstek, Doug Gordon @BrooklynSpoke, Sarah Goodyear @buttermilk1.
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I listened to a podcast today (22 May) during which you made a snide remark about (an implied backwater) like Cincinnati being in the forefront of repurposing streets for multiple users. You acknowledged that you’d probably receive ‘hate mail ‘. So my question to you is: ‘Then, why make such an offensive remark? Why alienate possible supporters for the cause of championing multi-modalism? Why be a stereotypical member of the sneering ‘coastal elite’? Such comments are neither funny, nor do they help the cause, so please stop making them.
Another thought provoking episode. I, like many others, am hoping to see a transformative change in our transportation choices, one that makes streets safer and the air cleaner. I fear it will not be permanent. While seeing more casual cyclists than normal and more family bicycle outings is very encouraging, I am also witnessing car traffic increasing again and most discouraging of all, a proliferation of muscle cars driving at ridiculous speeds and taking advantage of low gasoline prices. And transit, in the short term, is taking a beating. That does not bode well for our collective future if transit cannot make a strong comeback.