Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery

This evolving resource produced by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), collates evidence of how transportation and streets are being redesigned and reorganised in cities around the world. The guide suggests, “creating safe, walkable streets and choices for getting around are critical during the initial crisis response, and also to achieving a long-term economic recovery that is equitable, sustainable, and enduring”.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

The need for people-centred streets has been reaffirmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with increasing numbers of people opting to walk and cycle around their local centres. Current guidelines around physical distancing are fundamentally changing how people are moving through places and perceiving public spaces.

As other High Streets Task Force resources related to the crisis have demonstrated, many places are now being adapted to meet both the current and future needs of its users, with tactical urbanism interventions widely seen to help ensure centres are safe and accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.

This guide from the National Association of City Transportation Officials covers topics such as:

  • rethinking streets in a time of physical distancing;
  • public health;
  • slow streets;
  • sidewalk extensions;
  • transit lanes

The topics are covered alongside visual illustrations and case study examples. As the authors caution, however, this resource is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to street (re)design, as place stakeholders should assess the needs of the local context when forming strategies.

Six key principles for safe and liveable streets

What we need from our streets will also change over time, as places move back and forth through the stages of recovery. However, the resource provides six key things that place managers could use to inform plans to ensure safe and liveable streets and sidewalks, both now and as centres begin to recover.

  1. Support the most vulnerable people first - planners and decision-makers should consider the inequalities heightened by the crisis, and support the most vulnerable first.

  2. Amplify and support public health guidance - streets should be designed and managed to improve health outcomes for everybody and outdoor space made widely accessible.

  3. Safer streets for today and tomorrow - streets should be prioritised for public transport, cycling and walking today to reduce potential safety issues when vehicle trips increase again.

  4. Support local economies - to ensure future economic recovery, streets should be designed and managed to enable businesses, schools and institutions to reopen safely.

  5. Bring communities into the process - open and frequent communication is needed, with the voices of local groups and stakeholders taken into account in any plans and strategies.

  6. Act now and adapt over time - interventions are needed now to aid recovery efforts. Iterative monitoring of how successful they have been can inform longer-term changes.