How Pandemic Life is Changing Transportation for the Better

Traffic is the worst and when people start to regularly work from offices we are bound to see an abundance of traffic. Nobody wants this, yet for the last century we’ve been building our cities and suburbs to cause traffic instead of alleviating it. This past year as the need for outdoor space in cities has increased we’ve seen cities reimagine our streets (not in Toronto though, but elsewhere). People are seeing the benefits of designing cities for people who live there instead of designing for car domination of the public realm.

What about traffic though? Inevitably we’ll need to get around again in the future. This is the next step. Most people don’t need a car (they just think they do) for most of their trips, let’s give people multiple options to get around instead of just one!

Micromobility technology, by contrast, is evolving as fast as fruit flies. As Anthony Townsend notes in Ghost Road, the dockless bike operator LimeBike “put no fewer than nine versions of its flagship bike into service during its first year and a half of operation,” while scooter company VeoRide, he notes, can transform a new idea into “on-street hardware in 15 days.”

And yet for all the flurry of micromobility activity, the state of macromobility—which in the US means the car—has changed little, and in some ways is going backward. “The curb weight [of vehicles] is higher than it’s ever been, and these are the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade,” says Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at New Cities, an urbanist think tank. “The OEMs—who don’t seem to be particularly financially healthy—have basically hooked the earth on these extremely expensive vehicles. It’s like the SUV boom has happened against the backdrop of this supposed mobility revolution.”

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