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NACTO Releases Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery, Providing City Officials with New Resources in the Fight Against the COVID-19 Crisis

May 21, 2020

From pop-up bike lanes to shared streets to streets for outdoor dining, NACTO’s new design and implementation resource provides the most updated street design approaches cities are using

May 21, 2020 | For Immediate Release
NACTO Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery CoverContact: Alex Engel | [email protected]

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) today released Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery, providing cities around the world with detailed strategies they can use to redesign and adapt their streets for new uses both during the COVID-19 crisis and in the recovery. The resource compiles emerging practices from cities worldwide and includes adaptable information on implementing COVID-19 rapid-response and recovery street design treatments. This new resource is part of NACTO’s COVID-19 Transportation Response Center, which continues to track and share cities’ emergency response to the pandemic.

“Transportation and transit agencies around the world are leading the response with bold, creative and rapid steps to reshape their streets, and by using their existing assets differently,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO Chair and principal with Bloomberg Associates. “Adaptive use of streets can lead the global response and recovery to the crisis, keeping people safe and moving while holding cities together.”

“The need for real collaboration, across city, state, and national boundaries, has rarely been so apparent or urgent,” said Corinne Kisner, Executive Director of NACTO. “In developing Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery, NACTO looks to make it easier for cities everywhere to respond faster, innovate better, and support their residents in more equitable and sustainable ways. This pandemic has laid bare and amplified structural inequities and pre-existing socioeconomic disparities across communities. Transportation leaders and practitioners can use streets to chart a healthier and more equitable course for the future.”

“The global pandemic has made public spaces in cities — including streets — all the more valuable,” said Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former Mayor of New York City. “In many places, elected leaders are adapting streets in ways that are helping to promote health and safety. This new resource collects strategies that are working in dozens of cities around the world, and we hope it will help more governments make better use of their streets — both during this crisis, and over the long-term.”

As the COVID-19 global pandemic altered every aspect of urban life in recent months, city transportation officials have quickly implemented new street design and management tools to keep essential workers and goods moving, provide safe access to grocery stores and other essential businesses, and safe space for social/physical distancing while getting outside. Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery compiles these tactics and emerging practices in their application to different phases of local pandemic response.

From converting curbside lanes into expanded sidewalks or bike lanes; to creating pedestrian-only or slow and shared streets to enable physical distancing; to designating sidewalk or street space for cafe seating or outdoor dining; to sidewalk or roadbed queue zones for people waiting to enter small businesses, the new resource provides technical assistance, real-world examples, and information on planning, public engagement, design and implementation, and ongoing monitoring for each strategy.

Designed to respond as quickly as cities are, Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery will be revised and expanded regularly as more data becomes available on what approaches are the most successful at meeting city goals. Currently, the resource covers emerging practices including pick-up and delivery zones, pop-up bike lanes, transit lanes and sidewalks, outdoor dining spaces, play streets, and market streets. Over the coming weeks, the resource will be revised and expanded based on city experience, the rapidly-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the real-time evidence of the effects of these new street treatments on mobility, public health, and local economies.

“Together, we are writing a new chapter in our playbook,” said Robin Hutcheson, Minneapolis Director of Public Works and NACTO President. “COVID-19 has underscored how important our streets are in creating space, place, and recovery. Learning from each other, cities are adapting to this rapidly evolving situation, calling upon our foundational principles of sustainable and safe streets. In Minneapolis, our rapid response efforts are giving way to longer-term strategies, and we will continue to look to our colleagues and partners to share the best ideas among us.”

“Across the country and around the world, cities large and small are working to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including figuring out how to reconfigure our streets to meet the health, economic, and social needs of our residents and businesses,” said Joseph Barr, Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation for the City of Cambridge and NACTO Affiliate Member Representative. “This new NACTO resource provides flexible and creative guidance for cities about how to quickly change how our streets work, to allow us to effectively respond to and recover from COVID-19 while remaining responsive to the needs of local communities. This is particularly important for smaller cities like Cambridge, who can quickly take advantage of the lessons learned in other communities and then tailor solutions for our local needs.”

“Denver is proud to have been an early leader, closing over 5 miles of streets to thru vehicle traffic, so our residents could utilize them for walking and biking and getting some fresh air during stay-home orders,” said Eulois Cleckley, Executive Director, Denver Department of Transportation & Infrastructure and NACTO Vice President. “As our city begins to recover, and activity increases in our city and on our streets, we’re grateful to be part of a community of forward-thinking cities who are thinking through the tough challenges ahead and helping us iterate in real-time. Cities move fast to respond to their residents’ needs, and now we’re finding ourselves challenged to respond even more rapidly to keep our people safe and support the hard work ahead for recovery.”

Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and developed by NACTO, NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative, Bloomberg Associates, Street Plans, and Sam Schwartz Consulting. It is available as a free download on NACTO’s COVID-19 Transportation Response Center at

About the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
NACTO is an association of 84 major North American cities and transit agencies formed to exchange transportation ideas, insights, and practices and cooperatively approach national transportation issues. The organization’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter at @NACTO.

About the NACTO Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI)
Launched in 2014 as a program of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the Global Designing Cities Initiative focuses on transforming streets to inspire safe, sustainable, and healthy cities. GDCI’s work is informed by the strategies and international best practices captured in the Global Street Design Guide. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter at @globalstreets.