Back in March and April, the belief seemed to be that cities had lost their allure. Density had proven to be a bad thing and we were now all going to live in the country and spend our days working via Zoom. But as our cities begin to slowly reopen, something else seems to be taking place. In fact, the great irony of this pandemic is that it will probably strengthen our cities in the medium and long-term.
We’re pedestrianizing our streets. (Above is a photo of King William Street in Hamilton that I took last week. London is similarly looking at pedestrianizing parts of Soho.) We’re encouraging restaurants to expand their patio footprints. We’re adding bicycle lanes faster than we ever have before here in Toronto. And we’re finally becoming a little less uptight about the public consumption of alcohol. This is among many other things.
The reopening of our cities isn’t going to happen overnight. Some, if not all, will probably stumble as we find our way. But as unfortunate as this period of time is for most of us, it is forcing us to reconsider how life is lived in our cities and how we allocate urban space. Some of this will be temporary, but I suspect that a great deal of it will actually stick.
We’ll then wonder, “why didn’t we do this sooner?”
Photo: King William Street, Hamilton