By on April 28, 2020

Image: 1989 Toyota Camry

The ongoing fight against an increasingly terrifying virus that can ruin your life in a dozen different ways has led to a conundrum. People are advised to stay at least six feet away from each other, but the spaces we’ve built for people often requires them to move in much closer formation.

Public transit, airliners, nightclubs, even sidewalks are designed for crowds, for people rubbing elbows, for packing in as much humanity as regulations will allow. What happens when every last one of those people suddenly requires an order of magnitude more space?

Lets focus on the sidewalk problem, as nightclubs and pandemic dating aren’t really this publication’s bag.

In cities everywhere, local governments are finding new space in which to put pedestrians — and that new acreage is always subtracted from space once set aside for motor vehicle use. Blocked-off lanes, removed parking, and streets shut down in their entirety are how cities plan to ensure (or at least assist) physical distancing.

If you’re reading this, you’re a driver. Maybe not all the time, and certainly not for every last yard and inch traveled in your day-to-day, but undoubtedly you’re being impacted — or will be impacted — when pedestrians and cyclists start encroaching on what was once your turf. You’d also be impacted if virus transmission flares up again after a torturous spring peak.

Today we’re asking: how much are you willing to give up? These measures could last for six months or quadruple that. It could be permanent. Would you be okay with urban street parking halved? Every fifth one-way or bidirectional street in a downtown area closed off, only allowing local traffic? Four lanes becoming two?

What’s your personal take on the matter?

[Image: Toyota]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

46 Comments on “QOTD: Take Back the Streets?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I live in a small midwestern town and to be honest outside of grocery stores it really hasn’t been a hassle. When you live in a sparsely populated area “social distancing” is pretty much normal every day life

    Judging by the topic, though, let the “fun” begin…

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I’d be willing to give up all of the rental scooters that seem to be left lying around all over the place in various states of disrepair – all over the sidewalks, alleys and shoulders – when not being piloted by homicidal maniacs who like to play games with their lives by darting in and out of traffic while narrowly missing pedestrian traffic by millimetres.

    I believe there are some deep spots in the Ohio River where they can be left and never seen again.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “homicidal maniacs who like to play games with their lives”

      Point of information- those would be *suicidal* maniacs.

      I yield the floor.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        Homicidal, suicidal…just plain nuts! ;-)

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Oh yes, I definitely agree.

          I’ve used them to get around a few times when I’ve been visiting various cities. Courtesy and common sense are so easy, so is following a few simple traffic rules. I don’t understand the daredevils either. Keep right, obey traffic lights and stop signs, pay attention to your surroundings, and be a bit defensive at driveways and anywhere that the other guy should yield the right of way but might not by mistake.

          I might talk big on the internet about Darwinism and how somebody on one of those things who disobeys traffic laws and loses to the law of gross tonnage would deserve what they get- but just like any cyclist doing the same thing or a pedestrian darting through fast traffic away from a crosswalk, if I were the driver “in the right” and hit somebody who committed scooter suicide, I know it would be a terrible thing for me to deal with for the rest of my life. And that’s something that really annoys me about those people.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Increasingly terrifying? I know internet writers love the word “terrifying” but exaggerate much? More like less and less terrifying to those with common sense. It wasn’t worth destroying the best economy this country has seen probably ever.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      There’s a lot of drama on all sides of the media, I think they use to say it “sells newspapers”. Most people are capable of weeding through the hype and read what’s important

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      exactly

      if anything it’s increasingly not terrifying

      in the US, NY and its environs are the main problem and according to MIT it’s because the subways were the principle means of transmission. NY’s governor told his victims to “use the subways” but “avoid crowds” and he sadi so in the same statement while blaming “confusion at the top” for the public’s anxiety

      “confusion at the top” – w/ that statement he was defining himself

      CA have virtually no deaths in comparison to NY w/ 1/2 the Nations deaths.

      So keep NY locked down and let the other 90% of the country where the population is dispersed and doesn’t have mass transit do back to work – high risk persons excluded

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s an article by Scott Atlas, MD a former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford Medical Center.

      https://nypost.com/2020/04/26/science-says-its-time-to-start-easing-the-coronavirus-lockdowns/

      Out here in the fields things are loosening up starting this Saturday. Like another poster mentioned, rural areas have been far less impacted compared to the population dense NYC area. Even with that disadvantage, the numbers are not nearly what was originally projected and, for NYC specifically, are declining significantly according to NYC’s own reporting. A firm understanding of the science behind this by the general population would alleviate much of the fear based reactions like what is mentioned in the article.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        THX

        Great article. Totally agree. There are many other eminent experts around the world who concur with this opinion, who have written great articles as well. Education will reduce fear.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @THX1136: “Scott Atlas, MD”

        Scott Atlas is a radiologist and not an expert on immunology or epidemiology.

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          Ah, credentialism rears it’s ugly head. I saw one earlier on a message board that trashed the opinion of two doctors because they were both DO’s rather than MD’s. Even though they had done a peer reviewed study. The poster would…not…let…it…go. T

          The real answer is that their study disagreed with the poster’s maximum fear opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            well then let me just go ask my podiatrist about these chest pains I’ve been having.

            “MD” encompasses such a wide range of practices and concentrations that it is entirely relevant to point out what his expertise is actually in.

            But thanks for demonstrating why so many fools hinge on the words of quacks like Dr. Oz.

            “The real answer is that their study disagreed with the poster’s maximum fear opinion.”

            well, in keeping with the theme, “physician, heal thyself.”

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @SaulTigh: It’s not just the credentials. Why is it out of the thousands of epidemiologists and immunologists out there, one of the few guys that they could find to support their position is a guy that analyzes images looking for brain tumors for a living. He doesn’t have the training or experience that the epidemiologists and immunologists have. Are they going to go to a podiatrist next? Oh, that would be credentialism complaining about it, right?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            because it’s OK for him to go cherry pick the voice that agrees with him, even as he accuses others of doing the same thing.

        • 0 avatar

          True. I shared the article for information only. Not saying anyone should believe an MD, but what he shared seems to be well reasoned. Whether one finds his thoughts on the subject useful or not makes no difference to me. I’m not trying to change minds, just trying to offer another POV.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Have to agree. Terrifying is ebola. Terrifying is smallpox. Terrifying is something that will melt my skin and turn my insides into goo. Terrifying is something with an 60-80% mortality rate.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        A 1% overall IFR isn’t all that terrifying, and my healthy Gen-X 0.1% of it is even less so, but my 77 year old mother along with her entire generation is facing Russian roulette odds.

        It doesn’t strike me as terribly alarmist to accept inconvenience in preference to killing off a double digit share of little old ladies.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Inconvenience?

          “With these data in hand we think the April jobs report could indicate about 25 million jobs lost since the March survey week, and an unemployment rate around 20%,” they said.

          JP Morgan has sharply revised down its already dark forecast for second quarter economic growth. It now expects U.S. gross domestic product will shrink a staggering 40% in the second quarter on an annualized basis.

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/pedrodacosta/2020/04/09/jp-morgan-now-sees-40-plunge-in-gdp-unemployment-surge-to-20/#36d731d6436c

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      teddy,

      I agree wholeheartedly. People are increasingly coming to this conclusion, as their “terror” subsides.

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      @teddyc73
      Dying from a disease is worth it to save your “best economy”? That’s hilarious!

  • avatar
    JimC2

    One possible upside to more walking and cycling would be the long term reduction in the average width of what the market demands in hip room and seat bottom cushion size in new automobiles. This in turn could turn around the trend for larger and larger vehicles, which would reduce the frequency of the parking lot sin of parking too close to the line and/or other people’s doors, etc.

    JUST SAYIN’

    Then again, when I see so many humorous memes on social media about quarantine eating, it’s probably wishful thinking. There is a “growing” segment of society that seems dead intent on giving themselves certain ‘Rona comorbidities such as the diabeetus, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease…

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I was in Target the other day and this nearly hysterical women was telling the pharmacist that she was sure she had “it”. He kept asking about specific symptoms and she kept saying, “no, no, no”, I almost told her to go home and chill

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    It’s not just the streets, we have to take back the parks, the beaches, the playgrounds, the ball fields, and all other public property. We need to take them all back from our own elected officials, and teach those “public servants” that their powers are limited.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Yeah! I think you guys should pack the parks, the beaches, the playgrounds and ball fields. Pack em in tight, nose to toes. Then maybe we’ll see how many of you will be left in a month or so.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >>Yeah! I think you guys should pack the parks, the beaches, the playgrounds and ball fields. Pack em in tight, nose to toes. Then maybe we’ll see how many of you will be left in a month or so.<<

        you're describing NY's subways not the parks and beaches

        but of course, subways are fine w/ NY politicians because they spread the disease more than any other place – according to MIT

        the subways are dark, dank and fetid and NY’s victims are packed in like sardines

        fresh air and sunshine NOT a problem – so what do they close

        • 0 avatar
          ravenuer

          I was replying to Lorenzo who was talking about parks and beaches, not subways.
          Speaking of subways, how do you think all those 1st responders and medical personnel get to their jobs in NYC? You volunteering to go drive all of them to work?

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            you have the timeline off

            if they had closed the subways early they wouldn’t have had the crisis – or the big need for first responders

            there’s a reason NY has had half the deaths and MIT said the subways were the cause

            the rest of what you wrote is a non-sequitur

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        “Yeah! I think you guys should pack the parks, the beaches, the playgrounds and ball fields. Pack em in tight, nose to toes. Then maybe we’ll see how many of you will be left in a month or so.”

        Most of us? The fatality rate is less than 1%, and the most vulnerable won’t even be able to take you up on your challenge because they’re too physically infirm or out of their minds to actually go.

        I would go to a sold out NFL game today, without a mask. Maybe not in NYC, but KC or Dallas or even Seattle, sure.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    The City of Minneapolis has a great circular road through the city and parks and lakes and along the Mississippi called the Grand Rounds. It’s a great drive on a nice day and a good shortcut in certain parts of the city. I used to live right off it and would take it to get around and every out of town visitor got a tour on the Grand Rounds without fail.

    But if Minneapolis closed the Grand Rounds for a year and turned it over to the joggers and bicyclists, it would get a big ¯_(ツ)_/¯ from me.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Small to mid sized towns must not be getting effected the same way. You have to wear a mask, stand back at the grocery store and…well that’s about it. I can maintain 6 feet parking my darned Fiesta so that’s not really an issue.

    I do miss my favorite retro arcade. I hope they survive this. I’m going to go drop 100 bucks on Beer and Defender if they reopen.

  • avatar
    JMII

    You can’t social distant in the subway so clearly people living in NYC and other tight urban areas are going to need different rules that err on the side of caution.

    I never understood the shutdown of parks and other open areas, its not like these areas force you to stand shoulder to shoulder. The only close quarters encounters I have here in the suburbs are your typical shopping and dinning experiences, along with office. They can open up whatever they want, I’ll continue to avoid those places for a bit longer. No meal or pair of shoes is worth having a tube stuck down my throat to breath. Thankfully I can work from home.

    The answer to “normal” is simple: test everyone, tell those that are positive to stay home another two weeks. Keep repeating until everyone gets the OK. The problem with this concept is people will not accept the scarlet letter of being called out as a carrier. They want a haircut and a sandwich, so they go back out into public and restart another wave. Part of this is due to lack of symptoms and mild effects in some people, they don’t even know they have it thus continue their daily routine while inflected others.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Shutting down parks made not the slightest sense epidemiologically but psychologically it was a given.

      1. Statists gonna statist.

      2. Taking something trivial away lets them magnanimously give it back later, simultaneous to announcing that the stuff we actually want is going to be shut down another month. But you’ve done such a good job at distancing that you can already have the tennis court back!

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        That’s certainly part of it, and I would agree the primary motivator in most places with such restrictions, but again NY City is the outlier. Almost impossible to get out of your apartment and get to a park while maintaining some semblance of distancing. I can see why they would close them.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      agree w/ most except the testing

      PCR tests tell that you had the virus – not whether it’s active or not, whether you’re shedding the virus and can infect others

      antibody tests are not really accurate, they give false positives and negatives and not entirely sensitive – they may show a positive for another corona virus

      btw, I been told there will be no vaccine that works because there are already 30 strains of the Wuhan virus and there really aren’t vaccines that work well for corona viruses, look at SARS, from what I’ve read there’s no effective vaccine still and the outbreak was in 2003 – Fauci promised one back then too and it went nowhere after clinical trials that came 20 months later – it didn’t work, there’s still no vaccine

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Here in WI they shut down the state parks because too many idiots went to the parks and left trash everywhere and there were not enough workers to keep them clean.

      We would be in much better shape as a nation if people weren’t idiots.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I choose to live in a city because I at least to at least some extent buy into urbanist ideals. I love cars, but using them as the primary mode of transportation for every single journey ties up a ton of land for a single purpose, and frankly there’s just enough terrible, indifferent drivers I’d prefer to give them as many alternatives as possible to keep them off the road. So giving more space to pedestrians and cyclists? Absolutely. More transit spending once this clears up and it’s no longer a public health liability? 100%. I just also hope it comes with a decent variety of places to walk and bike *too* as I’m currently stuck in a mid-century suburban hellscape.

  • avatar
    Zipster

    Jimc2

    Have you noticed that as tire sidewalls have narrowed, people have become more obese? Can you explain this?

  • avatar

    Since my earlier post was “faulty” by some accounts, perhaps this WHO document will be found more informative.

    https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/329438/9789241516839-eng.pdf?ua=1

    Here’s a brief summary:

    Face masks for asymptomatic? No evidence and only conditionally recommended
    Surface cleaning? No evidence but might as well go ahead
    Quarantine of those exposed to the sick? NO
    Quarantine/ stay home orders for healthy/asymptomatic? NOT EVEN MENTIONED
    School closures? only conditionally recommended
    Workplace closures? only in “extraordinarily severe” pandemics
    Limiting crowds? conditionally but no evidence of benefit and serious ethical concerns

    Just my take on what I read.

    • 0 avatar

      Please note these are “pandemic” guidelines as I’m certain some will mention it is not specifically mentioning COVD19. Last I knew the COVID19 outbreak is considered a pandemic so I would assert the WHO guidelines apply as they rightly would for any other contagious disease.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “We would be in much better shape as a nation if people weren’t idiots.”

    One million times this .

    I’m so glad I broke my ass to buy my crappy little Ghetto house where I can hide out and then drive my car / ride my Moto away where there’s no one else .

    I’ve even managed to find a deserted park where my brother and I ate out take out lunch the other day .

    The parks / beaches / etc. closed deal is very simple : most places like this when opened up, instantly have crowds of people all jammed to – gether…

    Unless you’re a mouth breather this isn’t rocket science .

    I used to live in densely crowded places, some time apartments, I worry for those who still do .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Maybe just go out of town a bit ? .

    This isn’t far from me, I cannot ride like this at all but I _can_ ride the paved Desert back roads….

    Enjoy ! : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY5BzidOlH0&utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BikeBandit+News%21&utm_campaign=BikeBandit+News

    -Nate

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • 28-Cars-Later: Motor Trend tends to have some wonky COTY awards.
  • stuki: You can drive your TMax, as long as you pay for both it, and some dunce’s GM/Honda silliness. ICE...
  • ajla: The N-body Malibu was the 1997 Motor Trend Car of the Year. And did the Cirrus outhandle the Contour?
  • gregtwelve: I bought a new 2008 Saturn Aura XR for the wife about a month before the GM bankruptcy. It was a very...
  • stuki: Not much different from similarly government subsidized and protected Lada.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber