Streets for Pandemic – Response and Recovery

Last month, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) released Streets for Pandemic – Response and Recovery. The document compiles emerging practices in transport and street design in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes information on implementing rapid-response and recovery street design treatments as well as practices from cities worldwide.

“Adaptive use of streets can lead the global response and recovery to the crisis, keeping people safe and moving while holding cities together.” Janette Sadik-Khan

In terms of Rethinking Streets considering physical distance, the support of walking, cycling and public transport are highlighted as essential to the economy recovery. According to the document, people should be able to move safely and access essential services. In addition, streets can provide space for local businesses to serve customers outdoor and create space for exercise and play.

The document emphasises the establishment of principles to guide investments and decision making as an imperative and that it “should be grounded in local context, history, and need, and should be shared publicly, as well as across departments and partner organisations”. It also shares six Principles to Guide COVID Response and Recovery as summarised below:

  • Support the most vulnerable people first.
    • Aspects such as systemic inequalities, unequal levels of exposure and different financial and social resources available to residents, should be considered by planners and decision makers. Support for those that need most should be prioritised.
  • Amplify and support public health guidance.
    • This principle can be achieved via the expansion of outdoor space available to people. Streets can offer opportunities to foster public health and improve health outcomes.
  • Safer streets for today and tomorrow.
    • Changes need to ensure safe speeds on streets even if they have low-traffic. Public transport, cycling and walking need to be prioritised to avoid increase in traffic and gridlocks when restrictions are lifted.
  • Support local economies.
    • Street design can support economic policy goals by providing space for businesses, schools, and industries to safely re-open.
  • Bring communities into the process.
    • Local groups can provide key information to improve projects and help disseminate information.
  • Act now and adapt over time.
    • The adoption of an open and iterative approach will allow quick implementation, continuous feedback and course corrections.

In relation to Street Policies for an Evolving Crisis, needs will differ according to characteristics of neighborhoods. The document additionally explains that underlying vulnerabilities may require different provision of services, and that cities “should be prepared to employ different strategies in non-linear fashions as necessary” as the pandemic phases may follow a unpredictable sequence.

“Strategies that allow people to safely access essential services without travelling long distances are paramount.”

The table below summarises types of policies that can be considered during different phases of the crisis. It takes into account characteristics of the street and environs.

Types of Policies to Consider, NACTO (2020)

The Emerging Practices for Implementation section compiles a series of ongoing and emerging practices for rapid response mobility improvements. In terms of Planning and Engagement, Finding Space for safe mobility and physical distancing, Engagement and Planning, and Evaluation are the principal aspects to be considered.

Finding SpacePlanning & EvaluationEngagement
– Remove individual parking spaces.
– Narrow traffic lanes.
– Shift parking or loading away from the curb.
– Designate a street as local access only.
– Close traffic lanes or entire streets.
– Use an on-call or general contractor.
– Establish clear project goals and metrics.
– Monitor projects.
– Align projects with ongoing plans.
– Engage with stakeholders.
– Ask stakeholders and advocates to circulate.
– Work with community groups.
– Convey clear goals and seek feedback.
Emerging Practices – Planning and Engagement, adapted from NACTO (2020)

There is an excellent opportunity for the re-assignment of traffic lanes as the COVID-19 pandemic has slow-down daily traffic volumes. The section Materials and Design enumerates different short-term implementation strategies that can be temporarily applied on streets.

The document compiles worldwide practices covering the following topics:

  • Cycle lanes;
  • Footpath Extensions;
  • Traffic Lanes
  • Slow Streets
  • Pick-up and Delivery zones;
  • Outdoor Dinning; and,
  • Market.

We hope you have enjoyed this summary. This link will take you to the full document – Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery

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