Pop-up bike lanes and grassroots playgrounds: How COVID-19 will change cities

Read the full story at Phys.org.

Running through the middle Berlin’s vibrant Kreuzberg neighborhood, busy Kottbusser Damm has always been a nightmare for cyclists. For years, double-parked cars forced those brave enough to tackle the street to dodge in and out of rushing car traffic.

The scene along the half-mile thoroughfare is very different now. As the neighborhood’s businesses and restaurants begin to re-open after nearly two months of lockdown, cyclists pedal along a brand-new bike lane, carved out of what had been parking spaces and set apart from traffic by gleaming yellow lines and red-and-white striped bollards. Parked cars, meanwhile, were shifted to the middle of the street, and a single lane in each direction was open to car traffic.

Kottbusser Damm is just one of more than a dozen streets in Berlin where authorities have installed “pop-up bike lanes“—or “corona bike lanes,” as locals are already calling them—in the last two weeks. The idea is to give pedestrians and cyclists a way to commute and exercise safely from both cars and possible infection by SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Berlin’s far from alone. Other German cities, including Stuttgart and Essen, are setting aside space for cyclists too. In Milan, city officials announced that 22 miles of streets in the city center will be re-engineered to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians as restrictions on movement start to lift. And in Brussels, authorities are moving quickly to transform 25 miles of car lanes into bike lanes.

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