The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Urban mobility: responses, challenges and prospects for urban transformation

09 June 2020, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

Post COVID-19 Urban Futures webinar series - No. 7 Hosted by Daniel Oviedo and Caren Levy, in partnership with the Transitions to Sustainable Urban Mobility project (T-SUM)

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Daniel Oviedo

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Urban mobility: responses, challenges and prospects for urban transformation 

The global outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has brought cities to a standstill in a matter of months as a consequence of social distancing measures enforced by national and local governments worldwide. Such measures have produced meaningful changes in the daily activity and mobility patterns of the world’s urban population and made evident social, spatial and health inequalities associated with urban mobility.

In cities of the global south, where millions deal with acute conditions of poverty and limited access to formal livelihoods, social security, and basic connectivity to material and digital infrastructures, measures to control local outbreaks are likely to increase already large social gaps between the poor and the rest of society.

In the wake of pandemic-related constraints, social groups in urban societies have adapted to different degrees to a new normality marked by remote working and digital accessibility to employment, education, culture and social interactions. By contrast, a large share of low-income and other socially vulnerable citizens has faced the loss of their main activities, while others have been forced to engage in physical travel and exposure to contagion in order to maintain their livelihoods and access essential goods and services.

The crisis also threatens the viability of already financially fragile and overcrowded public transport systems. Formal and informal public transport systems, which carry a significant share of urban passenger trips across cities in the global south, have been forced to adapt, transform or disappear. Simultaneously, their role as a primary mode and lifeline access for low-income populations as well as a driver of strong social, environmental and health has become clearer than ever.

This webinar draws from experiences from multiple realities across Latin America, Africa and Asia to reflect on the crisis and the wide array of government responses in cities in terms of urban mobility. Through discussions with practitioners, decision-makers and academics, we address important questions for the future of urban transport policy and planning, the effects of the crisis on public transport, and the feasibility of policies aiming at improving local accessibility and non-motorised mobility from a transport equity perspective.


Fatima Arroyo Arroyo – Urban Transport Specialist, The World Bank.

Holger Dalkman – Founder and CEO, Sustain 2030

Patricia Lynn Scholl – Senior Transport Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

Joseph Macarthy – Co-Director, Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre

Gina Porter – Professor, Durham University

Juan Pablo Bocarejo – Former Mobility Secretary of Bogotá and Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes

Rutul Joshi – Associate Professor, CEPT University

Discussant: Caren Levy – Professor, Development Planning Unit



About the Post COVID-19 Urban Futures series

COVID-19 is a massive game changer in all spheres of life: Are we ready to imagine a better post COVID world? The Post COVID-19 Urban Futures series will feature written blogs, webinar events and video outputs reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on cities.

The series of 60min webinars to imagine the future in light of this world-changing pandemic. This is an opportunity for academics, students, professionals and the general public to reflect on what the world might look like and what we can do to share its direction towards a more just outcome.