Will the pandemic trigger a transport revolution?
The coronavirus crisis has had a massive impact on transportation. Aircraft have been grounded and the number of passengers on buses and trains has plummeted, while cars and bikes are more popular than ever. Commentators examine which means of transportation will win out and whether the crisis can bring about a transport revolution.
Cars as anti-virus protection
The car is about to make a comeback, columnist Amid Faljaoui predicts in Trends-Tendances:
“Easing the lockdown does not mean an end to protective measures and to social distancing in particular. Logically this could mean that the car (once again) becomes the most popular means of transport. ... It has the advantage over public transport that people don't have to get too close to each other. For this reason 'auto isolation' - driving alone in your car - becomes a sanitary gesture. Even mobility through share bikes and scooters is under threat because of the sharing concept they are based on. Rightly or wrongly, people feel this exposes them to unnecessary risks.”
Bike boom thanks to Covid-19
Libération sees another mode of transport on the rise:
“The bicycle offers a serious alternative to using public transport - metro, bus or tram - where social distancing is impossible. ... Encouraged by the state, cities, regions and departments in France have already drawn up plans - or are in the process of doing so - to increase the number of bike lanes and devise temporary measures to make things easier for bike commuters. The cycling associations, which for years have been pushing for increased use of bikes, can hardly believe their eyes: one cursed virus has probably achieved more within just a few weeks than ten years of non-stop activism! And cycling also helps to reduce air pollution, which is also believed to exacerbate the impact of Covid-19 on health.”
Parkings spaces must become open spaces again
In restructuring the traffic, cities must think beyond the corona pandemic, Falter urges:
“Forget cars and focus on people. ... It's no revelation that cities are first and foremost living spaces and not parking spaces, but coronavirus is revealing decades of neglect. ... If - as in Vienna - two-thirds of all traffic areas belong to the car, but almost 40 percent of the pavements (1,500km) are so narrow that two people are unable to get past one another at the 'safe corona distance', then even our everyday lives are becoming illegal. Reclaiming the city for people is not just a corona challenge. Whatever climate-related unpleasantness happens in the coming years, it will be at least as bad as Covid-19. Urban solutions are desperately needed.”