How Will We Dine and Uber in the Post-Pandemic City?

MC: So let me ask what this looks like. I mean, because we think about outdoor dining and we think about like, Oh the Parisian cafe, you know like the two tops along the sidewalk with people walking by. I'm imagining it's something quite different.AM: Yeah, I don't actually think it would look super different from that. I've been talking to folks who are really excited for the US to kind of move towards this European model of outdoor dining. A big thing here is that the cities that are implementing this, at least in the US, are making sure that tables are at least six feet apart and that can be challenging on skinny little sidewalks. So that's why some are talking about moving into the street, maybe moving into places where street parking used to be. So definitely be more spaced out then perhaps we're used to. But when you think of a European square where folks are drinking wine, enjoying pasta, that's what they do in Europe, right? I think would look a lot like that. And they're actually starting to pull this off in Lithuania. They're really turning the city into this sort of open market cafe.

LG: And what kind of resistance, if any, do these businesses face as they try to expand, basically unfurl their restaurants so that they just spill out into the streets and therefore cutoff some pedestrian pathways or prevent cars from going down the streets. Are there any people who are very opposed to this idea?

AM: Yeah, there's definitely a lot of challenges here. One challenge is that in many places you're required to X number of parking spots to go along with your restaurant. So if you're putting tables in your parking spots, you're cutting down at parking. So they're going to need permission from the city to do that. Obviously public health departments play a part here. This might not be a good fit for New York City right now because there are still many cases of the virus and it might not be a good time to really start reopening the economy in any way. There's also a question of liquor laws. You're not allowed to drink outside in a lot of the US, tragically in my opinion. So they're going to need to get state liquor boards involved. There's probably a lot of red tape that's going to go along with making this idea a reality in a lot of places. But it's also, it's also different in every city.

MC: I mean it sounds amazing, right? It sounds like something that we've always wanted, outdoor dining, make it easy for people to sit, stay a little bit longer, order that third glass of wine, enjoy themselves. So what are the chances that once we start abiding the virus to the point where we can fully reopen society, that this sticks around, that people have grown so fond of it and restaurants really enjoy it as part of their business. That we will allow people to continue this way of, I don't know, this leisure activity into the future.

AM: I think that's something that the people who are advocating for cities to reorder their space during this pandemic, allowing people more space to walk more space to a bicycle, they're hoping those changes stick around after the pandemic as well. But of course it's going to. It's going to come up against the realities of whatever the new normal ends up being. There's not a lot of traffic right now, but there's reason to believe that people aren't going to be so willing to get on public transit after this. It'll really freak them out. So then maybe you're going to actually see a ton more traffic once people start getting back to work because they're going to want to go in their own personal cars, they're going to want to go in an Uber or Lyft. So it's a real open question.