Post-corona life will be marked by limiting physical distance between people, avoiding unnecessary trips and boosting the economy in a sustainable way. How can cities harness this disruption to promote a healthy and sustainable recovery? At FutureproofedCities, we screened synergies between our standardised climate measures and the measures announced by the government to ensure a safe recovery from the coronavirus crisis. 👇
🚴🏻♀️ Mobility: better, faster... and healthier
What is a necessary displacement, and what is not? Since the corona crisis, our vision on mobility has changed dramatically. One thing is certain: working from home and virtual meetings are here to stay.
Another certainty: we rarely witnessed so little travelling by car and so much cycling and walking as in the past weeks. A survey among Belgians showed that 30% plans to cycle more often in the future. The fact that it also contributes to a healthy lifestyle is an extra advantage.
Moreover, according to British research, the temporary improvement in air quality in recent weeks has also had a real impact on general public health: less asthma, fewer premature births and 11,000 (!) fewer deaths from air pollution. Why not keeping these benefits after coronavirus?
At the same time, it suddenly struck those walkers and cyclists how much of our public space is taken up by stationary cars. Cities like Brussels, Milan and New York have therefore already taken action to redesign their city. The result: more car-free zones in the city centre and many kilometres of additional cycle paths.
- Invest in cycling infrastructure (make them better, and more extensive)
- Test period for e-bikes
- Group purchase for e-bikes
- Tighten up parking policy
- Make urban delivery more efficient
🏙️ Home is where your energy bill is affordable and your child stays healthy
Probably you've never spent so much time at home. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to stay in a comfortable housing, which gets warm enough in winter, and doesn't get unbearably hot in summer.
That's by no means the case for everyone. Many houses have electricity problems, a leaking roof, damp walls or a wet floor. The energy consumption for heating such a home, where energy literally creeps out through windows and doors, is often 80 percent higher than for a renovated home. Apart from economic reasons, living in such a house also has negative effects on physical and mental health.
- Thermographical map
- Group purchase insulation
- Roof insulation
- Insulation premiums
- Flyers for new or foreign-speaking residents
🛍️ Shops: sliding doors to keep the virus and the heat out
How do we keep the virus out of the stores? Shop owners will be obliged to limit the number of people in their shop so that social distancing can be respected.
In addition, hygiene is crucial. To prevent people from all touching the same doorknob, electric sliding doors can offer solace. Extra benefit: they also save the retailer money to maintain air quality, ventilation or heating all year round.
🌳 Agriculture and nature: green fingers to the heart of the city
Have you noticed? Citizens tended to search for open and green spaces around their homes more often. To work out, or just to chill. By planting more trees and opening up more city gardens or parks, intelligent cities can meet that growing demand and become more attractive. Vertical gardens can also radically green-up the appearance of the city.
It’s been busy in garden centres the past few weeks: many people started gardening or even cultivated their own vegetables. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of their own patch of land. That's why cities can make a huge difference here. More allotments and space for urban agriculture can be both enjoyable and useful to make the city's food system more resilient.
💦 Climate adaptation
Let's not get paralyzed about it, but there is a big chance that one day we will have to deal with another global virus. What factors will determine whether we can fight it efficiently? The answer is, at least in part, climate adaptation.
Can we keep cities cool in summer, and can we avoid flooding after heavy rains? Can we succeed in giving citizens enough space and green spaces in the city? The common denominator is spatial planning. Futureproofed spatial planning links natural areas, parks and waterways to form a pendulum of blue and greenery, right into the heart of the city.
🦠 Effect of corona in our community of FutureproofedCities
Can this crisis be an opportunity to relaunch our ambitions for better and futureproofed municipalities? We asked this during our webinar 'How to act on the corona and the climate'.
The commune of Saint-Gilles is setting up a bicycle library: 40 bicycles in 2 communal schools that will be available for classes. In addition, several streets have been temporarily converted into cycle lanes and the aim is to convert them into cycle lanes in the long term too.
In Marche-en-Famenne, an urban boulevard was reorganized: a central lane has been put in place dedicated to soft mobility, i.e. pedestrians or cyclists. The networks of cycle lanes and ravel roads have also been widened and redeveloped. At the same time, two other projects are in preparation: a project for shared bicycles and a group purchase of electric bicycles.
The intermunicipal association inBW has launched a public contract for a shared bicycle project, which is intended to be extended to all 27 municipalities in Walloon Brabant. The financing of all this will be done through a participation of each municipality, fixed at 2 euros per inhabitant.
In Bruges it has been calculated that for every euro invested in a bicycle project, they get a social benefit of 1.5 euro. It is very interesting to take into account some social gains that are usually forgotten. A cycling policy does not only generate direct income, but also indirect income.
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