Through curfews, contact bans and other measures to contain the virus, traffic density on European roads has also decreased significantly. In the chart in Spiegel (see below), based on data from the navigation service provider TomTom, it can be seen that car density in major European cities has fallen massively compared to 24 January 2020.
But even though car traffic on our roads has decreased, attitudes towards cars and driving seem to have changed during the crisis. Local and long-distance public transport, whether by road, air or rail, has been reduced and suspended in many places in the wake of the crisis and is considered risky because of the inevitably higher density of people. What remains is individual transport, i.e. car, motorcycle or bicycle. Due to the environmental debates of the last few years, the image of the car has suffered a lot and especially in urban traffic, shorter journeys were rather frowned upon. But in the wake of the crisis, one has the feeling that driving a car is almost seen as a positive contribution to contain the virus. The example of Corona shows very clearly that in certain situations, individual transport has its right to exist. BVZF, IVM and VDA have also drawn attention to this in a joint statement. The associations point out that the use of cars, bicycles, scooters and motorcycles can minimise the risk of infection and reduce the burden on public transport. The associations also call for workshops and bicycle shops to be exempted from closure rules. Together with petrol stations, these are part of the essential infrastructure.
The environmental and climate problem will not have disappeared after the crisis, even if aircraft remain on the ground for months. The development of multimodal transport concepts and the expansion of local public transport must continue to be prioritised, but especially in times like these, it is certainly possible to reconsider the advantages of the good old car. But with nice spring weather and closed gyms, you might be able to cover one or the other distance with a bike.
Related links: - European Commission: Coronavirus response. - Press: The Guardian – Coronavirus could be final straw for EU, European experts warn. - Press: Der Spiegel - The World comes to a standstill (DE). - Joint declaration BVZF, IVM and VDA. - Joint Letter of ACEA, CLEPA, ETRMAand CECRA to the European Commission.