The COVID-19 has radically reshaped life on earth, primarily in cities. Nothing is normal anymore and many temporary changes have been made. While a lot of people have been truly suffering because of the virus or the draconian measures taken to control the virus, there has also been a silver lining - namely the fact that streets have become tamer - almost overnight - and the air a lot cleaner. Residents in Mumbai could see stars from within their city for the first time ever, while Kathmandu residents could catch glimpses of Mount Everest. Many lives will also be saved, as a result of cleaner air and fewer traffic crashes.
A number of cities are saying: “Let’s not go back to business as usual!” Huge changes have been initiated or are in store for residents in Paris, Brussels, London, Tirana, Berlin, Mexico City and many more cities. Progressive leaders are using the opportunity to consider options of ‘building back better’ and making cities more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, reversing the dominance of car culture.
It is time for an international effort to advocate for a systemic shift of urban mobility in our cities. This may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform our urban spheres so quickly to take back the streets from the automobile.
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