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‘Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads!’

As Public Transport is reduced or stopped during lockdown, how have cities around the world innovated and adapted to the situation?

With the majority of the world now in lockdown, the need for public transport has been reduced to key workers and, in some cases, stopped completely. Whilst we see report after report of the millions of pounds needed to keep the UK transport systems alive, we wanted to take a look at how the rest of the world is coping. 

Initiatives Around The World


Milan is, fingers crossed, through the worst of the virus but they also understand the need to keep the spread of the future disease to a minimum. Public transit systems are still at risk of becoming hot spots therefore the Mayor plans to maintain the metro system capacity at less than two thirds with social distancing markers provided. The city is still championing the use of public transport post pandemic as they ‘simply don’t have enough vehicles or parking spots to switch over from relying on trains and buses to relying on private cars’.

To combat this, Milan has gone big on cycling and walking and will be partly remodelling the city core to provide 35km of road space for cyclists and walkers, with any vehicles limited to 30kph.


Paris was already waging war against private cars and will now be expanding the width of cycling lanes and a temporary version of its planned new network of nine long-distance cycleways, the first of which is due to open in May.


Berlin has been quickly amending their streets to create increased and safer routes for cyclists and pedestrians, although as a country synonymous with the manufacturing of cars, it is finding some of its initiatives an uphill battle with some residents.


Brussels has pledged to declare the inner city a pedestrian and cyclist priority zone with vehicles including trams and buses limited to 20kph.


Boston residents are calling on the city to go further than temporary cycle lanes and use this time to rethink their increasing transit problems. Narrow sidewalks and pedestrian/traffic collisions are almost the normal for Boston with the pandemic amplifying the existing problems. They haven’t stood still though – one way pedestrian systems are being installed and plans to give cyclists a higher share of the existing road space. 


Riverfront parkways have been closed to motor vehicles with pop up cycling and walking lanes also proposed


Oakland are initiating a plan to close 10% of the city’s total roads to motor vehicles.

Mexico City

The Bicycle Mayor of Mexico City has proposed 130km of temporary bike lanes, although temporary lane has already been implemented on a major route running between 8am and 7pm.

The UK is catching up

It’s not all doom and gloom for the UK. There are plans and plenty of ideas being reported. 


Council bosses have confirmed to local media outlet that they are considering temporary changes to give more space to pedestrians and cyclists, helping people to maintain their social distancing whilst outside of their homes exercising.

It was reported that environmental campaigners have called on the council to lower speed limits, shut residential streets to motor vehicles and create extra room on pavements. It is proposed that traffic cones and other segregations will be used to implement a traffic management plan to achieve these initiatives.

This is in addition to the park and ride facilities in north and south of the Tyne that have already been allocated for the use of key workers.


Residents of the city’s Northern Quarter didn’t wait for initiatives to be implemented by the council and have segregated at least one street using cones to allow bikes and pedestrians additional space and safety, now supported by Chris Boardman, the Greater Manchester cycling and walking commissioner.


The guardian also confirmed that London is looking at the busiest routes within TfL control to investigate where pavements could be enlarged temporarily as well as making adjustments to traffic light timings. 

The Future of Public Transport

We are under no illusion that the level of use of public transport is unlikely to return to the levels previously seen any time soon. But what measure do you think need to be taken to keep public transport as an option for our future?

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