This pandemic has caused widespread speculation on the future of cities. Will we all telework? Will everyone move to places where they have more space? Politico, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets have gone so far to announce that this could mark the death of cities, with commercial areas a dry husk of former commerce.
What these perspectives overlook is that not everyone has the means to leave, and that the pandemic may force cities to adapt in positive, sustainable ways. In January 2020, weeks before Covid-19 hit, Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled her plan to transform Paris into a “15-minute city.” It would redistribute the city into a cluster of neighborhoods where Parisians have access to everything they need within 15-minutes of travel by bike or foot from their home. The plan calls for streets closed to cars, intersections into pedestrian plazas, gardens in parking spots, and more.