Mobility patterns at crossroads? A study focused on the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on post-lockdown modal usage patterns in toronto
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As mobility plays such a crucial role in the everyday livelihoods of people and the environment, abrupt events like the COVID-19 pandemic and its ability to induce (short-term) significant changes in modal usage patterns requires continuous research. This served as a source of inspiration for this study to expand upon the (longer term) changes in modal usage patterns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this study analyzed traffic counts of cars, pedestrians and cyclists in Toronto during the pre-pandemic month of March 2019 and post-lockdown month of March 2022. By analyzing the daily modal volumes with daily COVID-19 pandemic related variables and other daily related variables, like weather, population characteristics and road classification, this study will consider how post-lockdown modal usage patterns have changed and what the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic was regarding those changes. This study concludes regarding the main research question that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant influence on volumes of cars, pedestrians and cyclists. However, the direction of effect differs per travel mode and per COVID-19 related variable while it was not affected by time of day. While daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 significantly predicted less volumes of cars, significantly higher volumes of active modes were counted on days containing (more) confirmed cases. Regarding the strictness of the policy aiming to mitigate harmful effects of COVID-19, the study results argue that stricter policy is significantly associated with less volumes of active modes. Thus, this study concludes that COVID-19 cases had a positive effect on active modal volumes while policy strictness negatively influenced the traffic intensity of cars, pedestrians and cyclists.