Resources for managing streets during COVID response, recovery, and beyond

By Rayla Bellis

Cities have rapidly implemented new street design and management strategies in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. These emerging best practices can provide a roadmap for other cities to follow as they respond to current needs, reopen their economies, and adjust to the more permanent changes to daily life.

NACTO’s new guide, Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery, compiles emerging practices from around the world for streets, curbs, and sidewalks to keep essential workers and goods moving, provide safe access to essential businesses, and offer room to access outdoor public spaces safely. NACTO’s guide includes strategies in seven categories:

    • Lanes for biking and rolling
    • Sidewalk extensions
    • Transit lanes
    • Slow streets
    • Pick-up and delivery zones
    • Outdoor dining
    • Markets

NACTO also recommends an overall framework for action, including supporting the most vulnerable people first, making streets safer for non-motorists with fewer cars on the road, getting community feedback, and acting rapidly first and making modifications afterward rather than waiting for the perfect solution. NACTO will be making revisions regularly to reflect new strategies and changing conditions.

Cities are also beginning to produce their own guidance and resources for managing their streets during COVID recovery. A task force in Pittsburgh chaired by former PennDOT secretary Al Biehler released a report with recommendations for streets and mobility to protect people as the city reopens and support businesses in the new normal. Most of these strategies are relevant to other cities⁠—for example, options for expanding sidewalks and outdoor dining space, curb management, and providing safe and affordable alternatives to driving. Pittsburgh’s report also includes broadly applicable recommendations on regulatory guidance and flexibility, community engagement, and a visual street adaptation toolkit.

Rayla Bellis is a Program Manager at SSTI.