#30 - 30 May 2020

Putting mobility back on track

While the lockdown is now behind us, the deconfinement test has only just begun. Now is the time for the global economy to recover from several weeks of a prolonged freeze of all economic activity. The mobility sector is at the heart of the different recovery plans that are being considered by many governments. In a context where social distancing remains imperative, many efforts have been made toward individual modes of transportation. From the car industry recovery plan (bonus, scrappage) to various actions in favor of the development of the bicycle (deployment of temporary bike lanes, financial aids towards purchase and repair), France has made several decisions meant to allow people to move again in a context of uncertainty about a possible second wave of the epidemic.

But a second crisis is looming: a long-term disaffection towards collective modes of transport (mass transit, carsharing) in favor of individual modes. The collateral victims of this recovery, mass transit networks, which are the backbone of urban mobility schemes, are suffering from economic difficulties which the Covid-19 crisis has only exacerbated in many countries. In a letter to the French President, the GART (Association of public transport authorities), warned the French government about the critical financial situation of many networks which could, in the coming months, be unable to pay their contribution to mass transit operators. This possibility could lead operators to stop public transportation services.

The recovery in a sector like mobility will be complex. The main challenges will be to avoid sector-only approaches, which can leave aside some means of transportation that are essential to the economy; to provide a sustainable answer to funding issues; and finally, to ensure that this recovery can favor the emergence of less-carbon-intensive mobility. – Camille Combe, Project Manager


No time to read? La Fabrique de la Cité has got you covered.

HEALTHY CITIES – In response to the ongoing sanitary crisis, the World Health Organization and US Habitat have released a sourcebook intended to help health and urban planning professionals implement planning practices that promote the preservation of public health. – Marie Baléo, Head of Studies and Publications

→ Related: our ongoing research project on the ways in which cities can actively foster better health for their inhabitants.


THE END OF A MODEL? – Large retailer bankruptcies in the United States and rising sales for Amazon or Walmart: the pandemic and lockdown have accelerated major trends and are having to pay a heavy price for the lack of investment in modernizing supply and furthering digitalization, a frequent consequence of Leveraged Buy-Outs (LBO), which are now being called into question. – Chloë Voisin-Bormuth, Director of Studies and Research


URBAN GROWTH – To what extent were the 2010s “the decade of the city”? The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program explains that urban growth was particularly acute early in the decade, before experiencing a decline. Yet they note “that young adults [...] may again gravitate to big cities as the pandemic recedes and gives way to a recovering economy”, as urban growth formerly followed the Great Recession. – Sarah Cosatto


MOTION SICKNESS – While cities have spent years trying to lure people out of their cars, they are now begging them to do the opposite due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mass transit is now almost a pariah and needs to reinvent itself while the economy recovers, while also suffering from a persistent funding crisis. Politico presents the challenges mass transit agencies will have to face in the near future… and how past mistakes could have been avoided. - Camille Combe


URBAN SNAPSHOTS – Discover striking portraits of New Orleans, Chicago, Juneau, Madison, Charlottesville, and Honolulu in the era of Covid-19. These snapshots bear witness of a state of “in-between”, as cities and their inhabitants oscillate between recovery and lockdown, distance and proximity, indoor and outdoor… – Sarah Cosatto, Research Officer

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