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Friends of MICD,

In the world of city design, one of the most tangible measures we've seen in response to COVID-19 is the emergency reallocation of street space to allow for safe physical distancing. We're looking to cities like Oakland and Denver as they test out new ways to keep residents safe — both in response to COVID-19 and to embrace what we have long known about physical activity and wellness. More on that below.

I'm also sharing our latest "Talk with a Mayor" piece, in which Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve talks leadership, creativity, and the lessons Burning Man has for city leaders everywhere. As always, your feedback is welcomed (and we'll be seeking more from our Resource Team alumni shortly — stay tuned).

Trinity Simons
Executive Director
Mayors' Institute on City Design

"Letting creativity flow from our residents"

This week on our "Talk with a Mayor" series at Common Edge, MICD Executive Director Trinity Simons speaks with Reno, NV Mayor Hillary Schieve about Burning Man, city building, and bringing a group of her peers from the United States Conference of Mayors to experience Black Rock City firsthand.

"More than anything, it has shown me the importance of being flexible, being responsive, and letting creativity flow from our residents. Every year, when the city is rebuilt, it is with accumulated lessons from over the years. Even the city plan — the crescent that circles the “Man” that is burnt on the final night — isn’t a fully closed circle because it’s responsive to the wind conditions on the Playa. It’s designed with nature in mind. 

But the fact that they can assemble all of this so quickly, and that it’s responsive to changing needs and times—it drives home that government can and should be responsive and open to creative solutions. When government is open to collaboration, innovation can happen much more quickly."

Read the article

Emerging best practices for safer streets

One of the most tangible city design responses to COVID-19 has been the reallocation of public space to help residents keep a safe distance from each other. Four-foot sidewalks simply do not provide enough space for people to stay six feet apart when walking (whether for necessary trips or for exercise and fresh air).

Here are a few of the different approaches cities are taking to create more safe space in the public right-of-way:
Slow Streets, Oakland, CA

Shared Streets for Social Distancing, Burlington, VT

Temporary Road Closures to Thru-Traffic, Denver, CO

Stay Healthy Streets, Bend, OR

Open Streets KC, Kansas City, MO

Shared Streets, Madison, WI

Stay Healthy Streets, Minneapolis, MN

Lift Up Local (restaurant and retail zones), Tampa, FL
More examples and resources from NACTO
We're seeing these new best practices emerge:
  1. Lead with equity and engagement: Ask residents what they need. Focus resources on areas with the greatest need for safe space to travel and move, in tandem with other mobility and public health efforts. 
  2. Focus on movement: Use design strategies like one-way loops to invite movement but discourage gathering.
  3. Change as you go: Adapt your temporary measures in response to successes, challenges, and feedback. Explore other cities' strategies. Make thoughtful changes as stay-at-home orders evolve.
  4. Message clearly: Use signage and messaging to communicate that these are temporary, emergency measures intended to help address the public health crisis at hand.
Learn more in this recent webinar from NACTO, featuring speakers from Oakland and Denver:
"Slow, Shared, and Safe: Closing Streets to Thru-Traffic During the Coronavirus"

More resources for mayors and designers

COVID-19: What Mayors Need to Know
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has been collecting operational best practices, examples of city guidelines, and other critical updates for city leaders.
COVID-19 Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations
The National Endowment for the Arts is collecting news and resources for arts organizations, from loan guidance to navigating postponements and cancellations.
The Mayors’ Institute on City Design is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors’ Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.
Copyright © 2020 Mayors' Institute on City Design, All rights reserved.

Mayors' Institute on City Design
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