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With millions of people sheltering in place to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, cities are experiencing a steep drop in traffic congestion, creating surreal images of deserted roads and empty highways, mirroring the reduced business and personal activity.
The present crisis is expected to have a longer-lasting impact on some forms of urban mobility. Car sales have collapsed in quarantined areas, but some early data from Wuhan, China, suggests they could bounce back when cities reopen. This can be partly explained by the perception that personal vehicles are safer than public transportation or shared mobility in the post-pandemic ‘new normal’.
Traffic congestion and air pollution might soon be back at the top of the agenda. Don’t forget that around $166 billion is wasted every year in the US because of gridlocks, while the European Union reports annual costs of nearly €100 billion.