Many European cities have created cycle lanes and reserved room for vehicles other than cars to encourage alternative forms of transport. I live in Geneva, where the number of lanes reserved for cars has been cut while those for bicycles and electric scooters have been increased. Furious motorists gathered signatures to protest against this, while cyclists did likewise to argue the opposite: the cyclists won and established a new way of moving from A to B that, while only meekly hoped for until recently, is now being encouraged with concrete measures.
The dream of many urban planners is perhaps coming true: in the pre-economic development phase people travelled on foot, by bicycle or on carts pulled by animals. In the development and growth phase people started moving by car, eventually creating the congestion, traffic and pollution to which we are now, unfortunately, accustomed. When economic growth declines and people realise that it is not possible – let alone sustainable – to keep travelling by car, people start walking and riding bicycles once more.
Anyone who has been to Amsterdam or Scandinavia will know the beauty of getting around like this. Perhaps this crisis is forcing us to travel differently and to rediscover our towns and cities – places we never saw when we were too busy finding a parking space.