To face the COVID19 pandemic, cities have taken short term actions. Streets have been closed to traffic during weekends to enable temporary playgrounds or car lanes have been transformed into bike lanes or used to enlarge sidewalks following tactical urbanism practices. Time has appeared as a main factor in the management of public space (defining timeslots to exit to the street or trying to avoid peak hours in public transportation by extending the starting and ending working times). Technologies have been key, enabling online work, virtual gatherings and creative activities, as well as developing applications for better tracing the disease or enforcing the lockdown regulations. But what will be the lasting effects of these measures in the long-term transformations of cities?
This commentary was written in May 2020, in the middle of a total lockdown in Barcelona. It is based on the events, reflections and public opinion reactions at this precise moment in this particular place. It argues that the urban adaptations to the COVID19 could be an opportunity to adjust, strengthen and accelerate some ongoing urban strategies: the transition towards a more sustainable mobility and a greener city; the development of neighbourhood life; the application of technologies in urban planning and management, community based initiatives and everyday public space experiences.