Maintaining essential mobility during a pandemic

By Fiona Twisse / Updated: 02 Jul 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a considerable impact on countries across the globe. While it is essential that people follow the advice, guidelines and directives of their national government and city administration, there are still some essential workers who must be able to move safely within their municipality or region.

Different countries have tackled these challenging circumstances in different ways – and, in some cases, directives differ from city to city. Below are some broad examples of measures being taken.

Closures and restrictions

  • ceasing all public passenger transport provision – or scaling back service duration and/or frequency;
  • enforcing the closure of non-essential businesses;
  • closing schools, colleges and universities;
  • banning public bike-share or e-scooter services;
  • introducing mandatory quarantine measures to prevent non-essential trips outside the home;
  • placing restrictions on recreational cycling and walking;
  • closing recreational spaces to discourage non-essential trips.

Measures that promote or mandate behaviour change

  • insisting on distancing measures when using public passenger transport (marking certain seats/areas as out of bounds);
  • avoiding cash transactions and encouraging the use of contactless card payments;
  • encouraging non-essential workers to work from home;
  • requiring people to wear gloves in public and specifically when using shared transport;
  • encouraging the use of shared transport services to migrate essential travellers away from public passenger transport.

City-led measures:

  • introducing more frequent and thorough cleaning of public spaces;

  • making passenger transport free for essential workers who must travel;

  • adjusting traffic lights to reduce waiting times specifically for pedestrians and cyclists to allow social distancing measures to be observed without impeding journey times (see example here in French). 

Join the conversation and share your reality

The Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) has invited people across Europe to share their experiences of mobility during the pandemic by joining the conversation on social media ( TUMI has also acknowledged that there may be different impacts from the pandemic depending on gender – inviting discussions on social media using the hashtag #womenmobilizevscorona.

Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) has also launched a hashtag to thank businesses and cyclists who have made extraordinary efforts and personal sacrifices during the COVID19 pandemic,  #cyclingtheextramile. Using the hashtag to recognise those who are working hard to support cycling by maintaining or repairing bicycles for essential workers to use at no cost or using bicycles as a form of transport while volunteering, is supported by the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF), European Cycle Logistics Federation (ECLF) and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Europe.

Sources of information:

The Commissions Travel and transportation page has been updated with the latest advice and DG MOVE are tracking the Mobility Measures implemented or announced by Member States here.

The European Commission has also recently issued COVID-19 guidelines on the following measures;

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​COVID Mobility Works has now launched, providing a platform of knowledge to support research, policy making and innovation for more sustainable mobility action during the COVID-19 crisis.

The following sources will help stay up-to-date with the most recent developments, advice and information

Live updates:

Further information and guidance:

The Eltis team has also started to provide a weekly round-up of measures taken across Europe in response to the pandemic and physical distancing measures;

Image Credit: © Delook Creative/ - no permission to re-use image(s) without separate licence from Shutterstock.