It was quite obvious when traffic started returning to our cities, but thanks to the data gathered by TomTom as part of its Traffic Index, we can see the bigger picture of what that means and what that economic recovery looks like.
Two ways the pandemic is reshaping our cities
When traffic began to return to our streets, it returned in a different form as to when it left. Two things appear to have happened: we now favor private transport more than before, and traffic density is spreading out throughout the day.
Due to the pandemic, public transport lost its allure as many opted for socially distanced forms of travel. Cities like New York, USA, Paris, France, and London, UK, took the opportunity to build new cycle lanes and low traffic neighborhoods to promote e-scooter and bicycle use. Low emission zones, a way of keeping the most polluting vehicles from city centers, have become a hot topic too. While these strategies have contributed to some reductions in traffic within cities, interurban movement has continued to be an issue for congestion.
Many interurban travelers appeared to prefer their own private cars over public transport, most likely for their relative safety and isolation during the pandemic. This led to sharp increases in congestion in cities when lockdown restrictions were lifted, and people had a reason to leave their homes. For example, in September 2021, traffic in Paris, France, was 10% higher than it was in September 2019.