Giving Compass' Take:
- According to surveys, mayors indicate that budget constraints may inhibit pandemic-inspired changes to public spaces like outdoor dining and infrastructure.
- What impact do public spaces have on communities amid the pandemic? How can donor investment potentially help fund long-term outdoor changes?
- Learn how COVID-19 had redefined the functionality of public spaces.
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Mayors expect their residents to spend more time outdoors after being inspired to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic, but few leaders are looking to incorporate pandemic-fueled changes to those spaces into long-term plans, according to a survey report of 130 mayors from 38 states released Wednesday.
Three out of four respondents to the Menino Survey of Mayors from Boston University said they expect residents to spend more time outside at open spaces compared to before the pandemic, and around two-thirds said they think residents will spend more time biking and walking.
Despite that trend, just over a third of mayors said they do not expect to see changes made to outdoor spaces during the pandemic — like expanded outdoor dining and infrastructure — last long-term due to budgetary constraints. But planning parks and open space with an equity lens is expected to endure, with 52% saying they believe the quality of parks vary across neighborhoods.
Parks and open space took on increased value last year as residents sought fresh air while social distancing and stay-at-home orders were in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. And cities responded by closing certain streets to vehicle traffic, including in parks, to help cyclists and pedestrians move about safely and to encourage more outdoor dining at restaurants.
But desire to make those changes permanent appears to be low: just over a third of respondents say they plan to keep the new space allocated for outdoor dining, while only 6% said they plan to make changes like widened sidewalks, new bike lanes and closed roads a permanent feature of their cities.
Read the full article about public spaces during COVID-19 by Chris Teale at Smart Cities Dive.