Pandemic offers municipalities chance to speed up transport transition – study
Clean Energy Wire
Germany'smunicipalities, as well as its states and federal government, should use the experience of the corona pandemic to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport, according to a study published jointly by transport think tank Agora Verkehrswende*, the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu), the Association of German Cities, the German Association of Towns and Municipalities and the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV). The alliance calls for a broad reform and investment initiative centred on "the re-division of public space - with more space for walking and cycling - and the expansion of public transport." Local authorities must be given more room to experiment so that innovative solutions can be tested and consolidated, according to the study.
"The experience of the crisis is an opportunity to get off to a good start in the transport transition," said Agora Verkehrswende head Christian Hochfeld. "The economic consequences of the pandemic and the impending increase in car traffic are a threat to the city as a place to live and work." The study says individualised forms of transport – be it walking, cycling or driving – have increased during the pandemic, while transport activities shifted into the afternoon and nearer to people's homes. The report also notes that the increase in remote office use could lead to new commuting routines and that people have become more willing to rethink old habits. But the study also stresses that public transport and the retail sector have been hit hard by the pandemic and that municipal tax receipts have declined sharply.
The study says it is not enough to support environmentally friendly transport options and that motorised individual traffic would have to be restricted. "A key factor here is the rededication of parking space and car lanes for walking, cycling and public transport, as well as for gastronomy and retail," states a press release.
The corona pandemic has upended the transition to sustainable urban mobility around the world. While the fear of infection has put people off public transport and vehicle sharing schemes, it has boosted private cars, cycling and walking. What happens next hinges on the spread of the virus and how decision makers react. Experts fear the crisis will continue to deter people from taking the metro, trams or buses, which they still consider the backbone of future transportation in our cities.
*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Verkehrswende is an organisation jointly funded by the Mercator Foundation and the European Climate Foundation.