Did the Pandemic Spur Radical Urban Change?

The Covid era highlighted social inequities and prompted new paradigms for urbanism and mobility. Will they stick around?

1 minute read

February 14, 2024, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Pedestrianized street in Milan, Italy with outdoor dining tables and umbrellas.

Pedestrian street in Milan, Italy. | Torval Mork / Adobe Stock

How will urban design and mobility change in the post-COVID city? Scott Shepard shares his thoughts, noting that “After the initial shock and subsequent waves [of the pandemic], a new way of thinking began to quickly take hold.”

Cities around the country and the world began looking for ways to reverse decades- and centuries-old urban design paradigms, spurred both by changes wrought by the pandemic and by the threats of climate change. “This, along with public policies and investments in shared and active modes and a decarbonization of the transport sector collectively pointed towards a brighter future, and one decoupled from the 20th century modernist, car centric urban paradigm.”

Shepard sees promise in the reorganization of society forced by the pandemic and the changes that are persisting as the pandemic winds down. “Much is still needed to be done to help promote and develop in this manner, such as the 15 Minute City and new initiatives to help people take back control of public spaces from the automobile through tactical urbanism and DIY projects.  However, this unprecedented era we live in is cause for celebration of our cities, and the potential they bring to a better quality of life for all groups and communities.”

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