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“This crisis invites us to think of the city of proximity”

Luc Gwiazdzinski is a teacher-researcher in town and country planning at the University of Grenoble-Alpes, co-author of Saturations. Individuals, collectives, organizations and territories under test (Elya éditions, 2020). This health crisis “Unexpected” must lead us to rethink the city so that it facilitates access to local services and promotes diversity and “Intensity” urban, explains the geographer.

How did the crisis redesign the ways ofmovement of goods in town?

It must first be remembered that the logistics chain remains robust, while part of the urban system is at a standstill. It is thanks to her that the confined citizens hold out. It is thanks to the men and women who work – and take risks – in these services that our cities remain livable.

Then, the health crisis amplifies certain evolutions which were already perceptible. Food retailers’ ordering and home delivery service sites are saturated. We are even seeing more and more consumers in the same building come together to place orders and have pallets of products delivered, which is really new. At the same time, the “drives” are flourishing, especially in medium-sized cities.

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Hypermarkets seem to have fared well with the development of this type of service allowing speed and few contacts. While markets are prohibited, we are also seeing the development of “drive farmers” in parking lots, squares or among the farmers themselves. To meet the demand for fresh products from the population, producers, market gardeners, breeders are coming together – which was not taken for granted until then.

If the “drives” in peri-urban areas develop, dependence on the automobile is likely to persist …

It is sure to question. But the “drives” are not the only elements to take into account. In the short term, it is possible that it is the car or the bike that win, compared to walking or the confined space of public transport. The car because it allows family containment to continue, the bicycle because it minimizes the risk of contact. Many European cities such as Brussels, Berlin and Paris are already taking advantage of the open spaces to widen the cycle paths or develop new ones – even temporary ones – and seem to want to give a special place to the bicycle during deconfinement and after.

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