Your monthly roundup of news, tools, and events from the world of 8 80 Cities.

#POSTCOVIDCITY: How to Create a More Equitable Public Realm Amid COVID-19

Amidst an unprecedented global pandemic, city leaders have made bold decisions to flatten the curve of COVID19. We applaud the efforts of these leaders who have introduced physical distancing measures and undoubtedly saved lives, protecting some of our most vulnerable residents.
We at 8 80 Cities are committed to following and sharing insights along this journey in a and towards a #PostCovidCity. To this end, we will be rolling out a #PostCovidCity blog series that continues this critical discussion about how cities need to adapt towards a more livable and resilient future for all residents.

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New Zealand: First Country to Fund Pop-up Bike Lanes

Dive into Carlton Reid's article celebrating New Zealand’s impressive leadership on prioritizing active transportation amid the pandemic. Their government-funded pop-up bike lanes are an example of how cities can rethink the role of streets as space for safe and healthy transportation and physical distancing. The rapid urban prototyping approach not only sparks excitement and positive reminiscing about some of our own 8 80 tactical urbanism projects, but it also reminds us that bicycle infrastructure is one of the most cost-effective transportation solutions cities have at their disposal now and towards creating a more sustainable and resilient future.

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Combating Social Isolation Needs a System of Care

Community development, health systems, policymakers, and others can come together to help ensure that loneliness and isolation among seniors are a thing of the past. In this article, Barbara Ray discusses the impact of social isolation on the growing older adult population in the U.S. (the population over age 65 is expected to double to 98 million by 2060). Ray challenges 20th-century planning that has often failed to create communities that foster social connection and belonging. Based on our collective experiences amid COVID-19, we can, as a society, intentionally and empathetically build new models and partnerships that foster a true system of support for people experiencing social isolation, improve quality of life and generate better health outcomes for older adults.

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Slow Streets: A New Way of Supporting Physical Activity During a Public Health Crisis

Check out this CityLab article profiling the City of Oakland’s post-pandemic Slow Streets Program which allows its citizens to keep the mandatory physical distancing of two meters (6 ft.) while supporting safe physical activity and essential active travel. The City has closed neighbourhood bike routes to through vehicular traffic (about 10% of all Oakland streets) so that people use the low-traffic streets walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging, and biking all across the City. 

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Vienna: New Zones for Interaction Keeping Physical Distance
A sample of the first new temporary areas to allow more safe space for people to walk, bike, and exercise in Vienna. More space for distance instead of narrow sidewalks. Via @BirgitHebein, Vienna's Vice Mayor. 
Watch the video
Speeding During COVID-19: Dangerous Behaviour that Affects All
Empty streets during a pandemic mean different things for each person. To many, like essential workers, they equal safety when walking or biking to work and less exposure to car traffic. In the U.K, for example, the volume of cars on the roads decreased by 60% according to recent data. What has not changed is the dangerous behaviour of irresponsible drivers, as many are seeing empty streets as an excuse to drive recklessly. 

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Jane Jacobs and Sesame Street
What do Jane Jacobs and Sesame Street have in common? A few placemaking rules. Curious? Let Lydia Kulina from Strong Towns guide you through the fascinating similarities.

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Physical Distance: The Challenge for Youth with Disabilities 
The times we are living in are definitely marked by social and physical distancing all over the world. Social and physical distancing is bearable for some but, for people living with disabilities, the challenge is bigger: they need constant interaction with their peers. The Everyday Friends Social Network program, created by Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC) in Toronto, has found ways through technology and the internet to keep their members connected during the pandemic.
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Parks Are Cathederals

Parks and other natural spaces have never been so appreciated than now, amid COVID-19.  During this pandemic, as anxiety levels and the risk of social isolation increase, people need to be able to enjoy the myriad of mental and physical health benefits that parks provide while keeping the mandatory physical distance. Yet some cities are shutting down parts of their parks system or the entirety of them. Read Adrian Benepe's (Senior Vice President for the Trust for Public Land) article to understand the reasons why it is important to allow these public spaces to remain open.

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The Sidewalk: An Undervalued Asset in Cities

Did you know the sidewalk has its origins in the ancient city of Kanesh (located in modern-day Turkey)? Did you know that this infrastructure got lost after the fall of the Roman Empire, leaving pedestrians unprotected while competing on the street with carts, cattle and horses?  
Sidewalks have evolved throughout the centuries and are important elements of city planning, but, what happens when they become "the last resort of people who can't afford to drive", and in the case of suburban areas, many times non-existent.  In this article, Ansley Hawthorne (CBC), guides us through the story of one of the most important yet undervalued assets in a city, a true representation of democratic public space, and what it means during this unprecedented time. 

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In Victoria, B.C., Parks Staff Are Growing Food for Residents

As a resource to help people access food in Victoria, B.C., known as Canada's City of Gardens, City councillors passed a motion to expand an urban food production program by temporarily reassigning some parks department staff to grow 50,000 to 75,000 seedlings to give to residents in May and June.
Mayor Lisa Helps has mentioned the need to step up and help in times of crisis with a bold initiative that will grant people access to food.  

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Bogotá Expands Bike Lanes to Curb Coronavirus Spread

Bogota, the place where it all started for us at 8 80 Cities, and a constant source of inspiration, is once again showing impressive leadership when it comes to quick action on opening streets for people amid the pandemic. The City has opened 76km (47 miles) of temporary bike lanes to reduce crowding on public transit, encouraging citizens to use the bicycle more as a mode of active transportation, as well as to improve air quality. The addition expanded the 550km (340 miles) of existing permanent bike lanes; 22km (13 miles) of the new lanes were converted overnight to open on March 17, by reconfiguring car lanes. Lima, Peru,  is also following the steps of their neighbours by installing the first 142 km of emergency cycling routes in a first phase of 45 days to avoid the spread of the virus. 

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