Apr 15, 2020 -- Posted by : goi70

Coronavirus hit Colorado quickly. Our state’s very first cases were confirmed on March 5. March 10, saw the declaration of a state of emergency; on March 14, all ski resorts were closed and travelers were advised to avoid unnecessary high country travel; and by March 16, closures had been extended to all bars, restaurants, and hotels. March 26 – just three weeks after the first case, the Governor followed the lead of other state’s and issued a Stay at Home Order (though most of us had already been isolating for weeks prior).

The Stay at Home Order has had a massive impact on Colorado’s traffic and emissions, and Coloradoans in fact, are among the most successful in the country at social distancing and avoiding unnecessary trips! Per a Google Community Mobility Report published April 5 – Statewide, there has been a 47% decline in trips related to ‘retail & recreation,’ a 21% decline in trips related to ‘grocery & pharmacy,’ a 58% decline in trips related to ‘transit hubs/stations,’ and a 41% decline in trips related to ‘workplaces.’ These numbers are most dramatic along I-70 and in Colorado’s high country where populations have been hit hardest by coronavirus. When combining data for Clear Creek, Eagle, Gunnison, Pitkin, and Summit Counties – total trips have declined by more than 67%.

This decrease in traffic can be seen tangibly on the Colorado roads that we know best. Due to strict urging against high country travel by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, I-70 is seeing an incredible reduction in traffic. The total number of cars that traveled on I-70 this March was 34% less than the total number of cars that traveled on I-70 last March. More meaningfully, traffic has declined over 65% since the March 26, Stay at Home Order went into effect, and I-70 Peak Time Traffic dropped by more than 84% on Fridays, 72% on Saturdays, and 73% on Sundays

Some may see this as a silver lining, and in a way it is. A stiff drop in the activity that causes some air pollutants, is providing the Earth with a much needed vacation from the effects of CO2 emissions. Rob Jackson, of the Global Carbon Project, says emissions could fall by more than 5% this year. Sika deer are expanding their range in Nara, Japan. Orcas are traveling further up Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, dolphins are returning to the Italian point of Cagliari, and Yosemite’s bears are roaming freer than they are typically able to – due to an amelioration of rampant tourist traffic.

It is important to remember, however, that this silver lining also reflects tragedy. It represents a halt in commerce; a dramatic hit to our collective livelihoods. And arguably most importantly, it demonstrates tangibly and indisputably, how powerful and damaging human generated emissions actually are. While we are beyond excited for life to return to normal (whenever that may be). We sincerely hope that this experience is not forgotten and leaves us with valuable lessons moving forward. Yes, we anticipate a future world with slightly fewer handshakes and slightly more social distancing; but we are also hopeful of a world with a little less traffic too. Even after this pandemic is all said and done, we urge you to please continue to think about how clean the air was; how vulnerable ecosystems began to heal themselves. Please continue to consider the impacts that your travel choices have on the world at large.


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