Simanaitis Says

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COMMUTING, DINING AL FRESCO, AND COVID-19

THESE, OF COURSE, ARE evolving times. Here are recent pandemic-related tidbits on everything from buses, to al fresco dining, to pedestrian-only zones. 

Automotive News occasionally includes a Shift supplement to its industry reporting. The December 2020 Shift focuses on “Mobility at a Crossroads,” one topic of which is Alexa St. John’s “The Great Reset: How Covid-19 has Upended Various Mobility Trends and is Reshaping the Future.” 

Catching the bus? Less likely. “This summer,” Alexa reports, “the IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed more than 18,000 U.S. consumers who regularly used public transportation. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they would reduce or discontinue using those servies in light of Covid-19. One in four respondents said they instead would use their personal vehicles as their only way of getting around.” 

Adieu, Curbside Parking. People may be eschewing public transportation, but they won’t necessarily find it easy to park. Alexa observes “Municipalities increasingly have dedicated curbside parking spots to outdoor dining.”

This and the following image from Shift, December 2020.

This, of course, isn’t just a chichi restaurant trend. It’s an effort to replace indoor dining with venues that are less Covid-transmitting. California, for example, permits dining al fresco at a lesser tier of pandemic control than dining within restaurants.

Other Urban Trends. Pedestrian-only zones are flourishing in what were traditionally auto-heavy city centers. “And,” Alexa writes, “they’re installing more micromobility lanes and infrastructure for bikes and scooters, which enable easier social distancing and fewer points of contact than do other modes of transportation.”

A Paris intersection. Bike lanes can generate their own traffic congestion.

“In the early days of the pandemic,” Alexa notes, “traffic substantially decreased in major metropolitan areas across the globe as more people began to work from home and governments mandated that people shelter in place.”

“As lockdowns were lifted,” she writes, “people began to venture out more. They found solace in forms of mobility that didn’t involve shared spaces, including cars and micromobility.”

Here in California, I recently combined a break of in-place sheltering with an opportunity to drive a fuel-cell Toyota Mirai. In doing so, I explored portions of Pacific Coast Highway

The Toyota Mirai visits my old office. (It wasn’t boarded-up in my day.)

In an evolving post-pandemic world, one thing I’d reinstitute is the phrase, “Let’s take a ride.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021 

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