UIC Study Analyzes How COVID-19 Has Changed Travel Behavior, Lifestyles | Chicago News
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UIC Research Analyzes How COVID-19 Has Modified Journey Conduct, Existence | Chicago Information

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Pedestrians wear masks as they walk along the sidewalk in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Thursday, May 7, 2020. (WTTW News)Pedestrians put on masks as they stroll alongside the sidewalk within the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Thursday, Might 7, 2020. (WTTW Information)

As Illinois companies and colleges closed to gradual the unfold of the coronavirus, day by day routines modified, with distant studying and telecommuting changing in-person instruction and shared workplace areas.

Will COVID-19 have an enduring impression on these behaviors and others — like long-distance journey? A brand new research by researchers on the College of Illinois at Chicago suggests it may.

“Outdated habits die onerous, however the disruption is completely different from different shocks in that it could truly change habits,” mentioned research creator Abolfazl “Kouros” Mohammadian, a professor and head of civil and supplies engineering at UIC.

Greater than 900 Chicago-area residents responded to a survey from late April via early June about employment, spending, long-distance journey, working from residence, grocery buying and danger perceptions. Of these surveyed, round 1% reported that they had a confirmed case of COVID-19 whereas 5% reported experiencing signs of COVID-19 over the course of a two-week interval.

Not surprisingly, researchers noticed an increase in telecommuting. Earlier than the pandemic, 71% of respondents mentioned they by no means labored from residence and simply 15% reported working from residence 5 days every week. In the course of the pandemic, telecommuting rose to 48%.

However all of these videoconferencing calls and makeshift residence places of work didn’t result in a drop in productiveness, in response to the survey. Of the self-reported new telecommuters, 59% mentioned their productiveness at residence was the identical or greater because it was on the workplace.

The largest considerations individuals had about telecommuting have been distractions and a scarcity of snug work areas, which Mohammadian believes will impression individuals’s future residing preparations. Beforehand, transportation and an individual’s commute time have been massive elements in residing conditions, says Mohammadian. “I feel a brand new issue on residential location might be how appropriate a location is to work at home,” he mentioned.

(FirmBee / Pixabay)(FirmBee / Pixabay)

Mohammadian additionally foresees a shift in journey habits, with individuals opting to journey lengthy distance by automotive relatively than airplane. Of these surveyed, 43% mentioned they anticipate to journey by airplane much less ceaselessly sooner or later, with the vast majority of respondents saying they don’t really feel protected or snug sharing area with others.

Getting passengers to really feel protected on planes might be a tough activity, says Mohammadian. Whereas air marshals and TSA screenings elevated passenger safety after 9/11, these measures won’t stop somebody with COVID-19 being seated on a airplane. “Altering individuals’s perceptions about air journey goes to be a troublesome job,” he mentioned.

Public transit businesses, taxis and ride-hailing companies face the identical problem, Mohammadian mentioned. In accordance with survey outcomes, 93% of respondents considered public transit, taxis and ride-hailing companies as a possible danger for publicity to the coronavirus.

These outcomes stunned Mohammadian. “I by no means would’ve imagined 93% of individuals would affiliate (these modes of transportation) as being dangerous,” he mentioned, including that respondents included a considerable variety of low-income and minority residents who depend on public transit. “How public transit businesses in our area – CTA, Metra and PACE – can acquire again the belief of commuters whereas offering ample companies … goes to be a very difficult activity.”

Private automobiles, bikes and strolling have been considered because the most secure modes of transportation, in response to the survey outcomes. “Even taking a taxi privately or an Uber X, individuals felt have been a bit of dangerous,” mentioned Mohammadian. “That’s a bit of surprising.”

A passenger boards a CTA bus from the rear doors on Thursday, April 9, 2020. (WTTW News)A passenger boards a CTA bus from the rear doorways on Thursday, April 9, 2020. (WTTW Information)

The survey additionally discovered a “significantly regarding hole” between the unemployment charges amongst full-time and part-time employees. Round 14% of full-time employees have been laid off briefly, in comparison with 35% of part-time employees. Whereas solely 5% of full-time employees completely misplaced their jobs, 17% of part-time employees completely misplaced theirs.

Individuals who labored in eating places, meals companies, bars, arts, leisure and recreation industries have been probably the most affected, in response to the research.

Survey outcomes additionally revealed that 44% of people that stay in low-income households, outlined within the research as these with an annual family earnings of lower than $30,000, misplaced no less than one supply of earnings in the course of the pandemic. By comparability, solely 11% of households with an annual earnings of greater than $150,000 misplaced a supply of earnings.

Researchers additionally discovered individuals have been spending more cash on groceries and meals and fewer on different objects, particularly these with decrease incomes. Folks with family incomes of lower than $30,000 have been on common spending 37% extra on groceries, in response to the survey outcomes.

“The price of groceries has gone up for all of us,” Mohammadian mentioned, including individuals have been prioritizing security and accessibility over worth. With costlier shops adopting extra security measures, low-income individuals might have to modify to costlier shops to attenuate the chance of catching the virus, he added.

“They didn’t have any cash to spend on something however meals and groceries earlier than (the pandemic),” he mentioned. “Now they’re paying 37% extra for groceries and 10% extra for ready meals. That is an excessive amount of.”

Researchers additionally famous an increase in buying on-line for groceries, a apply roughly two-thirds of respondents mentioned they by no means did earlier than the pandemic, in response to the survey. Round 74% mentioned they deliberate to make use of on-line grocery buying extra within the first few months after the pandemic, with round 59% saying they might store on-line extra ceaselessly after the pandemic ends.

Folks have been additionally requested concerning the perceived danger of visiting sure places and taking part in numerous actions in the course of the pandemic. Indoor actions have been thought-about to be riskier than out of doors actions, in response to survey outcomes.

Round 91% of individuals mentioned hospitals and gymnasiums/health facilities have been among the many riskiest locations to go to in the course of the pandemic. In-store buying and eating places have been second and third, respectively, with 86% and 83% categorizing them as dangerous.  

As individuals enterprise out of their properties extra, Mohammadian believes their danger perceptions will change, which is why researchers intend to comply with up with contributors in three months.

“Folks could be extra resistant instantly after reopening to exit and do buying in individual,” he mentioned. “It’s going to take a while for individuals to regulate to the brand new regular.”

UIC researchers are additionally launching a nationwide survey in partnership with Arizona State College. They obtained a $170,000 grant from the Nationwide Science Basis to survey greater than 5,000 U.S. residents.

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz (773) 509-5452  [email protected]