Street Reallocation as Adaptive Resilience in the time of COVID-19

Authors: Kara Martin*, McGill University
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: adaptive resilience, resilience-oriented urban planning, urban mobility, active transportation, urban decision making, urban design, urban geography.
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of people’s lives: working, accessing essential goods and services, to ensuring mental and physical well-being. Consequently, how and why people move around their communities has shifted (FCM, 2020). Across the globe, cities have witnessed shifting transportation patterns. Public transit ridership and automobile traffic significantly decreased at the onset of the pandemic and many more people took to walking and riding a bicycle (FCM, 2020; Laker, 2020). Italy, Portugal, and Finland experienced a significant uptake of bicycle ridership, while nations such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada experienced a decrease in weekday commuting but an increase in weekend bicycle trips (Eco-Counter, 2020). In response to these shifting patterns, some urban decision makers have adapted the urban form in an attempt to provide safe mobility options. From Bogotá to Berlin, cities have altered transport priority and reallocated street space with measures such as widening sidewalk paths, closing streets to vehicular traffic, and installing pop-up bike lanes (Bliss, 2020). In Canada, cities such as Brampton, Calgary, and Montreal unveiled unique approaches to provide their residents pandemic-friendly mobility options. The ability of cities to adapt to disruptive events demonstrates urban adaptive resilience. COVID-19 street reallocation responses provide an opportunity to measure the essential principles and characteristics of resilience-oriented urban planning (Sharifi & Yamagata, 2018). Based on in-depth semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in six Canadian cities, along with official documents, this study investigates if, and how cities are applying resilience-oriented urban planning to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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