Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Traffic Lessons We Learnt from COVID-19

Is “Learnt” Even a Real Word?

My uncle has a house-cleaning business. And like many of us, he’s been working from home. Let’s just say his house is shiny.

Almost overnight road traffic melted away, trains stopped running, planes stopped flying, buses emptied, people stayed at home. What did we learn? We have learnt we are not alone — there are other people living in my house. Who are these people???

We have learnt even small changes in traffic have dramatic effects on our commute (unless signals are traffic-responsive— probably not — not yet anyway). The difference between a stop-and-go commute and a free-flowing road can be as little as 10% of traffic. Less congested streets and intersections only involve small inconveniences to car traffic yet give priority to those who walk or bike. And electric bikes flatten hills and, surprisingly, make users more active, not less.

Decreases in public transportation (including school busses) and increased number of single-occupancy vehicles translates into more people driving (and buying) cars resulting in even more traffic.

Maybe it’s time we learnt to get serious about planning and building communities with traffic and accessibility in mind. Whole communities designed to minimize traffic with areas designated for residences, commerce, education, recreation, churches and yes, assisted living — communities specifically designed to eliminate the reason for our trips.

Let’s remember the things we’ve learned — working from home, buying in bulk, walking/biking, and how to use Zoom. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like driving less and spending more time with people — even if they are six feet away (that’s why we ordered a king size bed). People are important and home is where your house is — at least that’s what I’ve learnt.

Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience — online ideas available at