May 22, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Transit officials aim to help cities adapt outdoor spaces to a socially-distanced world

A sign stating the New York City subway closure is displayed on a Mass Transit Authority (MTA) ticket booth

Photo: Corey Sipkin/AFP via Getty Images

The National Association of City Transportation Officials has released a document, called "Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery," to make it easier for city planners to adapt their streetscapes to the shifting pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The scope and duration of the changes could affect urban air quality, carbon emissions and could even influence post-crisis oil demand.

  • Mass transit systems, for the foreseeable future, will be forced to run at greatly reduced capacity, even as driving starts to return.
  • The document offers technical guidance on revamping spaces for expanded pedestrian and bike access, outdoor dining and markets, new delivery patterns and more.

The big picture: "City transportation officials around the world have quickly implemented new street design and management tools to keep essential workers and goods moving, provide safe access to grocery stores and other essential businesses, and ensure that people have safe space for social/physical distancing while getting outside," the group said.

  • The new document "compiles emerging practices from around the world and includes implementation resources for cities and their partners."

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