Have you ever wondered what your city should look like if someone had asked you to become involved in its mobility planning? Maybe the city would be full of bike lanes, and without cars? Or, would you prefer cars and trains flying over the city, freeing up urban spaces to enjoy a walk, a picnic or a football match?
There was indeed a time when streets served as gathering places and as playgrounds. They were public spaces co-used by pedestrians, groups of children, horses, and streetcars. At that time, people were at the centre and everything was organised around them. Then, about a hundred years ago, this perception began to change. A decision seems to have been made to put cars at the centre of the public space, leaving the citizen out of the game.
Is there any solution for this? Yes, of course. It is to involve and engage citizens in the planning of urban mobility because they are the main users of cities. Engaging citizens in various stages of the ideation and planning process is key to create the solutions that are really needed. Solutions that consider the different roles we may play during a single day or our lives.
Each of us, no matter our job and background, can take up such multiple roles in our daily routine. We may be a pedestrian walking our child to kinder garden, be a passenger on a train while commuting across the city to work, a driver taking our grandparent to the doctor in a car. It is crucial to take these various roles into account when developing solutions or technologies to improve urban mobility while creating more liveable cities.
Citizens should be engaged when planning, designing and testing new mobility solutions. Policymakers, city planners, engineers should ask them for their priorities and needs and integrate them in the ideation process from an early stage to help planning and delivering targeted services. However, far too often, citizens are only asked about a measure once it has been put into place. The result? Products and services are of little or no value at all for many groups of citizens and fail to address the users’ expectations.
In many European cities, citizens are not yet convinced that they can be part of the decision-making process and have an equal voice such as business, technical mobility experts and operators. How can we make this change? At EIT Urban Mobility, we strongly believe that citizens need to be put at the centre of the innovation processes, understanding that there are multiple citizens’ groups and each of them has the right to have mobility alternatives adapted to their needs.
With this main vision in mind, we are organising our next Mobility Talks: Citizens as drivers of their own mobility, in which we will address the concept of greater citizen engagement, discuss best-practice methods, tools and processes to engage with citizens and debate if new technologies and data will revolutionize the possibilities for citizen engagement.
So, if you want to learn more and join discussions on this, don’t miss this online webinar on 21 October at 16:00 hours CET.
EIT Urban Mobility brings together citizens, engineers, researchers, startups, and a long list of other actors, to gather all the different inputs to make sure that every stage of the innovation process is tackled from the very beginning. This is the main rationale behind our survey on sustainable mobility transition in times of COVID-19. Have a look at it and take / claim your role as shaper of your city. Read more.