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COVID-19 Changes Transportation : NPR

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COVID-19 Adjustments Transportation : NPR


The pandemic is altering how we do a variety of issues, together with how we get round. Biking and strolling are having fun with an enormous upsurge. However even with that, street site visitors is getting worse as lots of people proceed to shun public transit and drive as a substitute. NPR’s David Schaper has this report from Chicago.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The considered packing herself onto a crowded bus or prepare makes Magali Olsen cringe.

MAGALI OLSEN: I am afraid to actually take the prepare.

SCHAPER: But she’s been using Chicago’s Blue Line trains two days every week to her job at an insurance coverage firm downtown.

OLSEN: Though I had, like, you recognize, Clorox wipes to scrub all the pieces earlier than I sat or contact something, I used to be nonetheless a bit of scared. You recognize, some individuals weren’t sporting masks.

SCHAPER: The Chicago Transit Authority mandates masks and is totally cleansing trains and buses. However Olsen has had sufficient, and she or he takes me into her storage to point out off her new wheels.

OLSEN: So that is the brand new member of the household (laughter).

SCHAPER: It is an electrical scooter.

OLSEN: It would not go greater than 30 miles per hour, so I can simply take it down and name it a day.

SCHAPER: Scooters are simply one of many modes which are changing into more and more standard. One other of the two-wheeled selection is the great outdated bicycle.


SCHAPER: The telephones are virtually consistently ringing right here at Kozy’s Cyclery, however anybody seeking to purchase a motorcycle is probably going out of luck as a result of this enormous store with three ranges of retail house is nearly empty.

SHERDON WEIR: The whole lot in a 2020 mannequin in a motorcycle has principally left the constructing.

SCHAPER: Supervisor Sherdon Weir says they have been bought out of all the pieces however the most costly street and electrical bikes and the smallest youngsters’ bikes for months.

WEIR: 2021 fashions are trickling in, and now we have a field full of clients which have bikes on maintain since March.

SCHAPER: However there are many bikes on the service aspect of the store, the place persons are lining up exterior each morning to get their outdated bikes repaired.

WEIR: Since they can not get a motorcycle, they’ve dug up bikes from their basement that want both tires and tubes, that want tune-ups.

SCHAPER: It is the identical story at bicycle outlets all throughout the nation.

AUDREY WENNINK: Biking is de facto on hearth proper now.

SCHAPER: Audrey Wennink is director of transportation for the nonprofit Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago. As scores of two-wheelers whiz by us on the busy lakefront bike path…


SCHAPER: …She factors to the a whole lot of vehicles jamming up on the eight-lane freeway subsequent to it, Lake Shore Drive.

WENNINK: We’re seeing site visitors ranges, by way of vehicles, having gone as much as virtually pre-COVID ranges.

SCHAPER: Right here and in different cities with strong transit methods, individuals who have by no means owned vehicles earlier than are abruptly shopping for them. In New York Metropolis, some are calling it carmageddon (ph) as residents there registered 40,000 new vehicles in July, the best month-to-month whole in years, whereas subway ridership continues to be down greater than 75%.

Throughout the nation, used automotive gross sales specifically are up whereas individuals nonetheless largely keep away from car-sharing and ride-hailing choices reminiscent of Uber and Lyft. Folks simply do not wish to be in a shared house with strangers. However on the identical time, many cities are not less than briefly closing off some streets to vehicles, turning them as a substitute into bike lanes and social distancing areas for pedestrians, out of doors eating and even play heaps.

WENNINK: It is a actual turning level.

SCHAPER: Audrey Wennink says regardless of the uptick in automotive utilization, many cities are increasing bike-share and scooter packages, in addition to different energetic and sustainable transportation choices.

WENNINK: As a result of the long-term issues that now we have of local weather change, of congestion, of constrained areas in city areas – these are nonetheless circumstances which are going to live on.

SCHAPER: She and different transportation and concrete planning consultants say there is a chance within the COVID disaster to rethink how we get round and use city areas in a post-pandemic world.

David Schaper, NPR Information, Chicago.


Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for additional data.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced utilizing a proprietary transcription course of developed with NPR. This textual content will not be in its ultimate type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability could fluctuate. The authoritative report of NPR’s programming is the audio report.


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