Coronavirus: paving the way for a new urban lifestyle?
Covid-19 has changed European cities. Outdoor activities have becoming increasingly popular and more people are cycling to work to avoid cramped conditions on public transport, often benefitting from wider bicycle lanes. Commentators argue that these changes are worth preserving even after the pandemic and call on politicians to provide incentives.
Give cities direct access to EU funds!
Financial incentives could be used to give sustainability efforts in metropolitan areas a big boost, sociologist and urban researcher Iván Tosics writes in Népszava:
“What's more, efforts should be made to expand the financial leeway and open up new financial resources through international lobbying and inter-city cooperation. It seems that the new EU budget and the recovery plan are headed in the right direction, however decisions have yet to be made at the national level, and there are no signs that effective control mechanisms will be introduced. It would be better to ensure that cities that show real commitment to sustainability are given direct access to EU funds.”
A game changer for cycling
Covid-19 has paved the way for a revolution in urban mobility, comments the head of the Berlin office of the Zukunftsinstitut think tank, Daniel Dettling, in Die Welt:
“The city dwellers who are avoiding public transport due to the coronavirus will keep using their bicycles or e-bikes in the post-corona era. The virus has become a catalyst for car-free city centres. … In order to maintain the required minimum distance, the distance between car lanes and bike paths and footpaths is being widened. In Vienna and Berlin, residential streets have become meeting places. New York, Vancouver, Mexico City and Budapest have set up car-free side roads for pedestrians and cyclists. ... That makes coronavirus a game changer for a new urban mobility.”
Garden picnics in keeping with Mediterranean spirit
In Público, architect Maria Fradinho describes her vision of a city worth living in after coronavirus:
“The ideal city is characterised by humanised and ecological architecture. The houses have outdoor areas and the streets are an extension of these semi-private gardens and terraces. The urban architecture offers a natural, flowing and balanced connection between the public and the private. It allows us to have a vegetable patch or even an orchard, and to have picnics without leaving our homes. ... Pedestrian walkways are flexible and versatile and provide access to all important services. In the ideal city the Mediterranean spirit is truly lived; life takes place outdoors.”