Post-pandemic public transit may not end up looking all that different—but its goals may have to change

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Concept designs with plexiglass shields probably aren’t coming to transit. Instead, cities have to figure out how to make the systems safe and useful for the people who don’t have a choice but to use them. As cities start to reopen, packed rush-hour subway rides seem like they’ll have to become a thing of the past: It’s hard to social distance on a packed train. But transit will still be crucial for helping people—especially lower-income residents—get around, and experts say straphangers will be back even before COVID-19 has been controlled. So what does that mean for the trains of our future? Read Full Story

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London is transforming its center into a car-free zone to create more distancing when it reopens

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“We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work.” Before the pandemic, roughly two million people rode London’s subway system every day, often packed on crowded cars at rush hour. As the city tries to figure out how workers can safely commute when more businesses reopen, it wants people to avoid public transit when possible—but not to switch to driving. To help make it easier to bike and walk to work, the city is creating a massive car-free zone in the center of the city. Read Full Story

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American suburbs are about to look more like European cities

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COVID-19 may accelerate a pattern that turns dull, transit-oriented developments into neighborhoods that resemble bustling cities. But there are risks. Over the past few decades, transit-oriented developments have risen in inner-ring suburbs across North America, adding homes and shops near the transit lines that shuttle workers in and out of core cities. It’s an old style of development, one more familiar in dense, transit-rich European countries, but one that caught a renewed interest in the 1990s. In places like Pasadena, California , and Aurora, Illinois , TOD projects leveraged transit access to create a more multifaceted sense of urbanity in places where it might not have emerged on its own. Read Full Story

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How cities are reshaping streets to prepare for life after lockdown

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How to prepare for a future where people can’t crowd into trains and buses? Make sure you get more bikers—not more drivers. As the daily coronavirus death toll slowly falls in Italy and cities in the country make plans for reopening, Milan is beginning to transform 22 miles of local streets, adding temporary bike lanes and wider sidewalks, and lowering the speed limit. In Berlin, some parking spots have also become pop-up bike lanes. Paris is fast-tracking long-distance bike lanes that connect suburbs to the city center. And in Brussels, on May 4, the city center will become a priority zone for people on bikes and on foot. Read Full Story

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This innovative tax plan is designed to help cities pay for climate action

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In Berkeley, California, an increase in the utility tax on wealthy households that use a lot of power would go toward subsidizing lower-income residents in transitioning to clean alternatives. Berkeley, California, is one of hundreds of cities to have declared a climate emergency. More than a decade ago, it also adopted a climate action plan. But the city hasn’t had the funding it needs to actually tackle the problem. Read Full Story

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Coronavirus is causing a biking surge—can it last when cities open up again?

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Biking is suddenly the safest and most convenient way to get around a lot of cities—and cities are responding by making it easier to bike. But when people can start driving to work again, will everything go backwards? As the coronavirus crisis has shut down some public transit service and taken so many cars off roads that the air has visibly cleared in cities such as Los Angeles, bikes have emerged as the right tool for a pandemic—a way to quickly get around cities and get exercise while staying a safe distance from everyone else. Read Full Story

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What urban flight means for the future of work

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Here are three major trends that leaders can monitor as workers relocate and work remotely. White-collar work is a pillar of the big city, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, that pillar might be crumbling. We may not be facing a mass exodus, but many urbanites have already packed their bags and headed to greener, less crowded pastures. And if they haven’t moved already, those that remain may not be far behind. Read Full Story

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7 ways flying could change in the age of COVID-19 (and 1 way it definitely won’t)

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The airlines are VERY concerned about your safety, everywhere but actually on the packed plane. Cruise ships offer a deadly petri dish for COVID-19 to spread, but air travel doesn’t seem to be all that wise either. Airports are full of cramped lines. Planes have built their entire business model on packing as many people as possible into a small space that’s filled with recycled air. And, of course, a single infected person flying from one city to another can spread a pandemic, too. Read Full Story

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How to train your brain to be more present

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This temptation to multitask has only gotten worse in the work-from-home era. But there are ways to fight it. When cell phones and multi-threaded operating systems went into wide use, we saw a rise in multitasking that made people less productive. Suddenly, there was a constant temptation to switch away from one task (say, writing an article like this one) to another (say, checking on emails that may have come in over the last couple of . . . hold on . . . okay, I’m back . . . where was I?). Read Full Story

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100 apartments in 8 months: How Toronto built housing for the homeless at breakneck speed

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The city used modular architecture to respond to a dire need for housing during a deadly pandemic. The project could be a model for other cities—during COVID-19 and beyond. In the face of overlapping crises, the city of Toronto has created a fast track to house people experiencing homelessness. As the impacts of the pandemic quickly hit this community harder than others, the city accelerated its efforts to build permanent supportive housing, using modular architecture. Just a few months after the project was launched, the city will have 100 new apartments. Read Full Story

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