Let’s pause for a second and imagine that we could go back in time to Dec. 31, 2019, and tell sustainable transportation advocates what this year held in store for our movement.
Imagine how those hypothetical advocates would react if you told them that, within a few months, roughly two-thirds of all car traffic would abruptly vanish from U.S. streets.
Imagine what our former selves would say you if you told them that such a rapture would prompt countless cities across the country to transform roadways that used to be dedicated exclusively to private vehicles into places to play, move, eat, shop, learn, and more.
Then imagine their faces if you told them that countless other cities would do nothing at all, even as those wide-empty streets encouraged the drivers who remained to speed out of control — forcing per-mile car crash rates to a terrifying, 15-year high.
Could the 2019 human mind even comprehend the idea of an overnight 75-percent drop in transit ridership — much less the idea that federal government would give agencies less than half of what they needed to survive that kind of apocalypse?
What about a massive increase in biking in 88 of 100 American cities that would leave bike shops sold out for months — nevermind the idea that the biggest booms would happen in cities like Toledo?
And what if you told those sweet, summer children that all of this would happen before May? And that by the end of that month, the police murder of a Minneapolis man in a parking lot would transform our streets yet again — this time, into a space for protests the scale of which the world has likely never seen?