Is Carpocalypse Inevitable?

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One unanticipated consequence of the COVID-19 crisis is that it’s given us a window into an alternate reality in which the hegemony of cars does not exist.

Traffic vanished when the pandemic started, and along with it, so did smog, noise pollution, and road fatalities in many places. Capitalizing on the abrupt absence of automobiles, forward-thinking cities are reclaiming record amounts of street space for pedestrians, cyclists, and businesses in the form of plazas, bike lanes, and outdoor dining

The response of anti-car voices to these developments has alternated between two poles: amazement that society is suddenly bending to meet their long-standing urbanist demands, and skepticism that any of it will last. Already there are troubling signs from China to California that congestion not only returns when cities reopen after lockdown, it worsens.

On our next subscriber-only webinar, Oliver Bruce and Doug Gordon, co-host of The War on Cars, will sit down to assess the durability of car-free streets beyond our COVID moment.

Essential questions include:

  1. Is car traffic doomed to return to pre-crisis levels as cities reopen?
  2. Will the bicycle boom last, and will new buyers stick with cycling?
  3. Will temporary urban interventions like outdoor dining, open streets, and pop-up bike lanes eventually become permanent?
  4. Are cities doing enough to encourage non-automotive alternatives to public transit?
  5. What steps can transit agencies take to bring riders back safely?
  6. How will coronavirus impact density and car ownership in the long run? 

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