Many cities saw park usage skyrocket during the COVID crisis because of residents’ need for both social-distanced recreation and escaping crowded, cooped-up houses and apartments. Several cities, including New York; Washington, D.C.; Denver; Louisville, KY, and Berkeley, CA, responded even more efficaciously to the demand by closing roadways in some of their parks to create more room for safer recreation. Their actions were widely lauded, partially because the broad decline of commuter driving reduced the pressure on downtown traffic.
With the pandemic waning, cities have had to confront the issue of continuing the car-free roadways or returning to the previous traffic pattern. This peer-to-peer conversation will focus on how urban park managers dealt with the conflicting demands, the choices they made, and their plans for the future.