Yes, that's a bike with COVID-19 wheels, best idea I could come up with to blend transportation and the virus... anyway... back to the subject of this post... Will you change your transportation habits after this COVID-19 pandemic is over compared with pre-covid times? That's what I find myself wondering during these strange times, so I asked twitter...
Now take this for what it's worth, a small sample of people more than likely biased towards transportation planning, and particularly sustainable transportation. But if there's even a bit of truth in the results, it would mean big changes for transportation planning in general and for some services specifically.
Work From Home
Getting more people working for home has always been one of those transportation demand management solutions that could have the greatest impact on peak hour traffic volumes, removing trips entirely, but many of us still commute every day to the office. Right now we're in the middle of a huge worldwide experiment to try out working from home on a huge scale, so will people choose to do it more? 22% already do which is great, imagine if we had 22% more people commuting in single occupant vehicles. 46.7% said they would work from home more, now that could be five days a week or one day a week, but encouraging nonetheless.
Transit is the ultimate mode of urban transportation efficiency, precisely because it accommodates so many people in less space than any other mode. With the need for social, or more accurately, physical distancing, will people be less likely to use transit? Will people be more reluctant to use services where they will come into close contact with others or a surface others have touched? As suspected the poll shows some will use transit less. 22.6% stated they don't use transit, 25.8% stating they will use transit less, 48.4% using it the same, and interestingly, 3.2% said they will use it more. If you take out those that don't currently use transit, we're left with approximately a third of existing users saying they will use it less. That's not good for the transit operators and could potentially increase congestion if they were all to switch to single occupant vehicles. Maybe people said they'd use it less because they would work from home more, maybe transit users are more likely to choose to work from home?
Luckily cycling looks like it might pick up some of the slack, with 24.2% saying they will cycle more, about a third once you remove those that don't cycle. Now are these the people taking transit less, the numbers are close, are they drivers that have a new found love for cycling as they get some exercise while staying mostly at home? Twitter doesn't let me know who voted so its impossible to say. Will this increase actually materialize and result in municipalities rapidly implementing safe all ages and abilities networks to accommodate demand?
Interestingly, nobody said they would drive more, and 26.5% said they would drive less, so must be a result of people working from home more.
Near the end of the survey I was walking along the street and a Evo car share car drove by, first thought was I was using it, who was in there before? Hence the question below. Fewer responses here, but again, where we have a shared service, we see 15.4% of people thinking they will use it less.
Like above, while I was out riding my bike the last two weeks, the trails are noticeably busier than before, presumably as people don't have shops, restaurants or anything else to go to. Will they continue walking more? Again, only 10 surveys, but a whopping 70% said they would walk more.
Lastly, I thought I better ask about bike share, again another service where you share a bike and surfaces with others. I left this one a bit late, only 3 responses, but 2 of 3 people said they would use bike share less, hopefully this doesn't spell the end for such services.
Who knows... This is a tiny sample of people that might be more biased towards sustainable modes, but even with that demographic, we see transit, car share and bike share use reducing. Luckily, driving also reduces and we see active transportation increasing. Will this change materialize, will it be short lived, will we go straight back to our old patterns from pre-covid times?
Time to reprioritize and repurpose our streets while demand is low and people are keen! Some cities are already deactivating pedestrian push buttons and making walk signals automatic, and converting road space to capture the extra pedestrian and cycling demands... Let's try this in more places, leave it in place, and see what happens...