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Mayors Expect Residents Will Spend More Time in Outdoor Public Spaces, But Few Using Pandemic as Opportunity to Reimagine These Areas, According to New Survey

Nachrichtenquelle: Business Wire (engl.)
31.03.2021, 15:04  |  121   |   |   

The past year introduced new ways of experiencing parks and greenspace, as the COVID-19 pandemic, which initially prompted widespread lockdowns, subsequently inspired millions of Americans to seek out open space near their homes. Mayors across the U.S. anticipate this “new normal” to continue even after the vaccine is widely available. Three out of four mayors expect residents to spend more time visiting parks and greenspace than they did before the pandemic, and roughly two-thirds expect residents will spend more time biking or walking, according to the 2020 Menino Survey of Mayors, the only national representative survey of America’s mayors conducted annually by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities.

Nearly all of the mayors surveyed (92%) say they created new space for outdoor dining and just over a third stated they plan to make these changes permanent. Other efforts to reclaim streets for new uses during the pandemic appear to be less common. Four in ten mayors reported widening sidewalks, while slightly fewer (38%) created new bike lanes. Nearly half (48%) shut down some roads to through traffic, though very few mayors (6%) plan to make these closures permanent.

Oakland, CA offers one example of a city that used the pandemic to transform city streets. “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many resident routines, including how they recreate and move within the city,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Last year we launched a Slow Streets initiative, closing off more than 20 miles of streets to all but local traffic. This allows our residents to share space safely, alleviates overcrowding in parks, and prioritizes streets for pedestrians rather than cars. Continued investment in the public realm—with an equitable lens—will help cities come back stronger than before.”

“This past year reminded mayors and their constituents that the public realm can really be the people’s realm,” said Katharine Lusk, Co-Director of the Boston University Initiative on Cities and lead author on the report. “Cities wrote new stories on their streets and in their parks—of people marching, kids playing, families dining. But it’s clear from our discussions with mayors, it’s still early days. More—and more equitable—green and open space is in many cities an aspiration, not yet a reality.”

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Mayors Expect Residents Will Spend More Time in Outdoor Public Spaces, But Few Using Pandemic as Opportunity to Reimagine These Areas, According to New Survey The past year introduced new ways of experiencing parks and greenspace, as the COVID-19 pandemic, which initially prompted widespread lockdowns, subsequently inspired millions of Americans to seek out open space near their homes. Mayors across the …

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