Sweden is one of the few countries that emphasized personal responsibility over lockdown. As restaurants, bars, shops, and hair salons continued to operate, signs like this one in public spaces reminded people of the importance of hand washing.
One of the lessons people learned from the Great Depression had to do with accepting strangers. Jim Sheridan shared that when he rode railroad boxcars to get around during the Depression, there would be 50 or 60 people in a car, discussing politics and sharing meals. How can public transportation be a means for relationship-building and dialogue?
The traditional public bench for two, often found on sidewalks, bus stops, and parks is being re-imagined with a plexiglass divider that adds a level of separation by Milan-based architect Antonio Lanzillo.
Seattle’s Stay Healthy Street Initiative will result in the closure of 20 miles of streets to vehicular traffic to allow more space to exercise and bike, particularly in areas with limited open space and low car ownership.
Social distancing is maintained in Athen’s central Syntagma Square during a May 1 rally through colorful plastic markers on the ground.
Portland is embarking on the “Slow Streets|Safe Streets Initiative,” which aims to ease social distancing, accommodate more pedestrians and bikers, and make Portland’s eventual re-opening smoother. Three components are of importance: eliminating or slowing car traffic, expanding protected pedestrian spaces and bike lanes on busy streets, and creating dedicated pick-up spots and loading zones on commercial streets. Submitted by Ingrid Schneider, University of Minnesota (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The many ways by which streets can be used to give people more space have been documented by urban planner Mike Lydon of Street Plans. These range from closing streets to changing pedestrian signals. See examples of some of the most beautiful streets for inspiration.
Photo credit: Tasoulla Hadjiyanni
Concrete sidewalks become a canvas for children to express their creativity and find ways to tell stories of resilience and perseverance, connecting to others around the globe. Dan McClanahan, a photographer in Iowa, captured some of these moments.
As Athen’s streets and plazas empty out, photographer Alexandros Maragos captures the opportunities that arise when emptiness can be a catalyst for innovation and a rethinking of what else streets can be. In the words of poet Argyris Xionis, as cited by Demetra Hadjiyianni, “Step on the asphalt with respect. Underneath it there are stones dreaming of gardens.”
Milan was one of Europe’s most polluted cities prior to the lockdown. As motor traffic congestion dropped by 30-75%, so did air pollution. This inspired the introduction of one of Europe’s most ambitious schemes to reallocate street space from cars to cycling and walking that will help residents limit public transport exposure.