Arts and Culture

A Glimpse of Future Cities – Seattle

Change Is On Its Way

As repetitive as it may sound, COVID-19 is currently leaving a permanent mark on modern history. The outbreak, now categorized as a global pandemic, has infected nearly four million people as of May 8.

Needless to say, it has left an unforgettable impact on everyone’s life. Experts have stated that the global economy, and even society itself, will change as a result, leading to the creation and destruction of entire industries. It is obvious that health regulations and standards will be altered as a result of this virus, especially in the service industry.

However, how will everything else change? 

Historically-speaking, the greatest changes to civilization have been brought about due to revolutions and sudden novelties. For instance, the development of the automobile changed the world so much when it was introduced that entire city layouts were reinvented. Likewise, the internet changed the landscape of society so much in just 20-odd years that it is nearly unrecognizable from just 40 years ago. Similarly, COVID-19 and its future iterations will continue to change our current forms of life, perhaps to a point where our current lifestyles will be a sweet memory of the past to tell our grandchildren.

Seattle is already invested in producing bike and pedestrian-friendly streets. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is an organization that advocates for the optimization of streets for pedestrian and cyclists’ usage. 

What Will Future Communities Look Like? Seattle May Have An Answer For That Question

With all of these grim expectations of what is to come, many of us are curious about life in the future, and how our daily lives will proceed. As if responding to this, Seattle has, for the past month, been announcing a previously unheard-of plan for its bored and inconvenienced citizens: permanently closing roads to traffic. As people try to picture a terrible dystopia in the near future, the city of Seattle in Washington state has taken the initiative of carefully and strategically closing down streets for traffic access. By measuring the flow of traffic, and connections reaching essential businesses from residences, the city proposed a plan to close down 130 miles of public roads for use by bicycles and pedestrians.

It is not an unheard of event for governments to close streets during this lockdown, and provide pedestrian and cycling access through these areas. What is new, however, is the permanent closure of certain streets. Officials were able to identify regions and neighborhoods where traffic flow was so low that closing them would have had no adverse effects on the functionality of nearby residents. These areas would not only provide a safe path for cyclists and pedestrians to take, but also serve as a recreational safe zone for children and adults alike at no extra expense. 

In a notable application of futurology, the city of Seattle is giving the world a glimpse of what cities around the world could look like in a few years. The same way wooden establishments and wagons were replaced by concrete buildings and steel carriages, closed streets may become a prominent playground for neighborhoods of the future.

 

According to Seattle, 20 miles of inactive residential streets will be permanently closed and repurposed as recreational zones and passages for cyclists and pedestrians alike. This project is expected to reduce peoples’ reliance on cars, and emphasize eco-friendly alternatives such as walking, biking, and even public transportation once the pandemic is resolved.

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