Walk, cycle or drive? Coronavirus shakes up urban transport

Anxiety about infection has been evident on London’s subway with many commuters wearing face masks – a few fashioned from bags and plastic boxes – while a man was arrested for licking his fingers and wiping them on a subway pole in Belgium.

Transport for London (TfL) said its passenger numbers fell by 2% in a week, raising hopes among some that urban dwellers were switching to greener forms of travel. Cities account for about three-quarters of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions

But the benefits of people choosing to cycle, walk or stay home to avoid coronavirus could be cancelled out if others opted to use cars instead, said Carlos Calvo Ambel, a director at Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based campaign group.

City-wide policies to support more sustainable modes of transport were needed to make any shift to cleaner types of travel prompted by coronavirus fears stick, he said.