The health crisis caused by COVID-19 has driven change at several levels in Portugal; in economic, cultural and social terms, but also in the way we think and design public spaces, especially in cities. Portugal's capital, Lisbon is changing and adapting to the new normality, through a series of interventions that aim to guarantee a greater physical distance in the streets and footpaths. With the "A Rua é Sua" (The Street is Yours) programme, launched by the capital's local council, public health safety, active mobility and local commerce are promoted to help boost the economic recovery, with more space for terraces, and greater safety for clients and workers.
This programme, already in progress in Lisbon, is widening footpaths, providing waiting areas next to commercial areas with greater movement, creating exclusively pedestrian streets (such as the streets of Bacalhoeiros and Nova da Trindade, or Cláudio Nunes in Benfica) and widening the space of the city's terraces, including the occupation of parking spaces. In recent weeks the parish councils have authorised the widening of more than 400 terraces into areas that do not compromise the necessary physical distance between pedestrians, including 57 that have occupied parking spaces. These measures are being implemented throughout the city and are complementary to the extension of Lisbon's cycling network, which provides for a further 70 kilometres of cycle paths by the end of the year.
"With public transport limited in capacity during the pandemic - and to prevent thousands of people who have stopped using transport from bringing more cars into the city centre, making life and pollution levels unbearable - active modes of mobility are a safe and viable option for ensuring greater distance in transport and relieving car pressure in the city," reads the statement from Lisbon City Council. Let's have a look at the A Rua é Sua programme in action.