Reimagining Our Greener Cites Post COVID-19

Image: Ahshea1 Media

by Zoey Shipley

How Cities Will Change in the Future after COVID-19

In densely-populated, car-centric cities around the world, COVID-19 is a nightmare. The virus has been able to spread rapidly and quarantined city dwellers are desperate to enjoy the outdoors–creating added danger by congregating.

What’s become most evident is that modern cities are part of the problem. Air pollution from cars has made city dwellers more susceptible to coronavirus. And the massive uptick of biking and teleworking is showing us that we need to rethink the fact that cities are made to accommodate cars and buildings instead of humans. 

Why This Matters: Past crises have always provided lessons on how conditions should be improved in cities, 

If past is prologue then the COVID-19 crisis has taught us that cities have to find a way to be a part of nature and to give humans access to the natural world in addition to the built environment.  


Some Changes to Consider: Some major nations and cities are already creating recovery plans with sustainability in mind. For instance, Milan, parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, Denver, New York and others are hoping to fend off the resurgence of cars by pushing to create “open streets” policies that reclaim space for cars and instead make it available to biking and walking.

The Path to Greener Cities: 

  • Healthier Buildings” – Using buildings to improve peoples’ health by way of things like larger windows, better ventilation, and the incorporation of more natural materials. 
  • Depopulation of major cities – Living in a large city may become less desirable in the future if people continue to see them as dangerous. This could make rent more affordable in cities and could also help boost populations in smaller (and more rural) towns as more people choose to stay out of large metropolitan areas.
  • Telecommuting – Work remotely could become much more common in the workforce. Working, visiting healthcare professionals, and even touring places like museums have all gone digital. This shows that this could become a new possible normal for our society. 
  • Better Public Health Practices – Many new methods may be adopted to prevent the spread of future viruses. One would be the better filtration of air on public transportation and in buildings. Better ventilation, more UV sanitization, provide solutions to help better clean areas indoors. Another method is more widespread handwashing stations. Some cities have brought out handwashing stations to major spots like bus stops, banks, restaurants, etc. to encourage the practice. 

Go Deeper: To learn more suggestions on what could be changed in cities check out these pieces from the LA Times and Fast& Company


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