How to keep safe distances in covid-struck Geneva

Right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I set out to map the places where physical distancing would be challenging in my hometown of Geneva.

As people were left with more time on their hands and were forced to queue outside to do their shopping, the need for more public space became clear.

This map highlights the streets that lack public space, according to an estimated number of shoppers and walkers. It also proposes to pedestrianize certain streets for people to move around safely.

Geneva's most crowded streets during the corona pandemic

How many people need free space ?

Two types of people need more space than usual. First, the shoppers are now kept outside for safety reasons but aren't given enough space. By standing close to each other, they are exposed to contamination. Moreover, people need to spend time outside as they spend the majority of their life at home. Having walks and runs outside may be the only activity that people dare to do, we should let them do so safely.

It is impossible to know the exact numbers of shoppers per shop, especially as these are exceptional times and not all shops are opened, but some shops are more successful than others.

Hence, I have estimated the number of customers based on observations, or rather the number of people queuing outside during rush hours (noting that they still exist despite the change).

  • Very big supermarket : 35

  • Big supermarket: 30

  • Small supermarket: 15

  • Convenience stores: 10

  • Bakeries, Restaurants, ...: 4

Free space

Free public space is the space that allows people to move and stand around safely. It excludes the space dedicated to cars. Even though fewer cars are around, pedestrians tend not to use that space.

Today, free space also means areas where we can keep a safe physical distance from other people. A grid of points separated by a 2m distance has been created to simulate the recommended distance. Though the configuration may allow for more or less people to queue on a given space, it produces a detailed enough representation of how many queuing spaces are available..

Copyright © 2021 Mark Spurgeon