Pandemic Travel Patterns Offer Hints About Future

Woman wearing a mask on a busThe world collectively has learned a lot since COVID-19 begin forcing shutdowns and stay-home orders. Experts say that’s true for travel patterns, and the way people shifted theirs during and after lockdowns may offer a glimpse of the future of human transportation.

Bloomberg CityLab says, “The lessons of the great transportation freeze of 2020 could guide future policies as many cities reopen and attempt to build a healthier future.”

Travel declines varied by mode when shutdowns started, says the report. Walking and driving both saw declines but the most drastic was on transit, as local governments and health experts advised people to stay off buses and trains if possible. Today, walking and driving are beginning to bounce back but transit use remains low.

“Bike-share systems around the world gained popularity as commuters fled transit systems: In Beijing, the three largest bike-share systems reported a 150 percent increase in use by May, according to the research firm ITDP. Ride volumes grew some 67 percent on New York City’s bike-sharing system in early March,” the report says, noting that personal bike sales doubled this March over one year prior.

Other findings include environmental effects and the effects of transportation changes and shutdowns on Black and other minority groups.

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