Moving beyond COVID-19: Break or continuity in the urban mobility regime?

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Abstract

Upon its irruption in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a flurry of reflection on its potential long-term effects on urban mobility. Despite widespread speculation about the likely permanent impacts of the pandemic on urban mobility, few academic accounts have re-examined the extent to which these speculations were warranted once the pandemic is over. To this end, the present article explores the retrospective perceptions of key stakeholders regarding the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the urban mobility regime, through a qualitative case study of the Barcelona Metropolitan Region, involving 22 semi-structured interviews. Approaching urban mobility through the lens of sociotechnical regimes and the multilevel perspective (MLP), we identify key perceived changes to the urban mobility regime in the aftermath of the pandemic, as well as four main obstacles to effecting transformative change towards sustainable urban mobility during the “window of opportunity” created by the pandemic. Our findings suggest that the pandemic has generally not led to significant changes in the urban mobility regime, with two key exceptions: the normalisation of teleworking, and the consolidation of tactical urbanism approaches to street redesign. These findings confirm the obduracy of the existing urban mobility regime, while pointing to promising inroads which might result in the transformation or destabilization of the current regime.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101060
Number of pages13
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Volume24
Issue numbermarch
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Barcelona
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Multilevel perspective
  • Sociotechnical transition
  • Urban mobility regime

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