Author: Ráchel Surányi & Noémi Szabó (Mobilissimus)
An EU project has operated around different European neighbourhoods in an attempt to improve mobility, specifically for children and those with reduced or different mobility needs. Here, Mobilissimus, in Hungary shares more information about the project, and in particular the changes that have taken place in Budapest.
What is the EU-funded SUNRISE (Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods Research and Implementation Support in Europe) project?
The EU-funded SUNRISE project took place in six European cities. Its goal was to improve sustainable neighbourhood-mobility based on co-creation processes. The project developed, implemented and facilitated co-learning opportunities, to best understand new and collaborative ways to address common urban mobility challenges at the urban district level.
Six neighbourhoods from different cities across the continent chose to participate in the scheme, and represented areas with different social and economic backgrounds. Thanks to this, the so-called “neighbourhood mobility lab” faced different challenges and were able to report on different and varied results from the studies.
The project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and ran between May 2017 and April 2021. This pilot provided an opportunity to learn how it could be applied to their neighbourhoods and suburbs, and then scaled up.
An overview of the challenges and focuses in each of the Sunrise pilot projects
In Bremen, Germany (Hulsberg neighbourhood) parking caused big problems in public spaces, making it hard or impossible for bigger vehicles (e.g. firefighters) to enter some of the streets. Caregivers with pushchairs also struggled with the sidewalks due to the trend for parking across the kerbs. The project results recommended and introduced stricter regulations on parking, so the neighbourhood became safer for pedestrians, adults, and children.
In Jerusalem, Israel (Baka neighbourhood) the project focused on the importance of walking in the city. The idea that walking is good for both the neighbourhood and the city was promoted by young “walking ambassadors”. Apart from the awareness-raising activities, there were also place-making activities, including the redesign of a street and the creation of a bench shaped in a way that it was meant to encourage strangers to have conversations.
In Malmö, Sweden (Lindängen neighbourhood) the pilot area was characterised by a multi-ethnic population and the role of walking, biking and public transport played was initially rather small. The project’s goal was to implement smaller measures with tangible results to gain trust. Therefore, they focused on increasing the share of sustainable travel modes and on increasing the perceived safety of the area.
In Southend-on-Sea, UK the project looked at redesigning the main street, to connect the beach with the centre. The street was full of vacant shops and perceived safety was low. According to public surveys, the street’s redesign resulted in a more liveable and welcoming space and a higher feeling of safety.
In Thessaloniki, Greece (Neo Rysio-Thermi neighbourhood) the main problems were the car-dominant mobility system, inappropriate infrastructure around schools and a lack of a playgrounds and places for children’s and families’ recreational activities. To tackle these problems, hard measures, such as bike parking, a smart bus stop and traffic signs outside of school and soft measures (e.g. a walking bus) were implemented.
A deeper dive into one of the case studies: Budapest, Hungary
Törökőr in Budapest, is a mixed-use neighbourhood with residential, educational, shopping facilities and some office buildings.
At the beginning of the project, Mobilissimus, a mobility planning company based in Hungary, collected information about mobility concerns in Törökőr by using online mapping tools and on-site mapping events. The online mapping tool allowed residents to log in to a communal map and add notes on locations where they had issues with mobility. They then invited locals to attend forums to discuss their perspectives on the city. The project organised thematic walks, such as walking in the shoes of blind people, children or the elderly, so participants could familiarise themselves with obstacles that people with reduced or different mobility needs face.
By Autumn 2018, the project in Budapest reached an important milestone: after a long process of preparation, mapping, idea collection and cost estimation, the decision was taken to offer residents the chance to vote on which measures they felt could be most impactful for their neighbourhoods.
Citizens were then encouraged to vote for the projects that they wanted to see implemented. Based on the results of the votes, the three most popular investments were:
- Safer areas around schools: Speed bumps, parking restrictions, raised street crossings, repainting of pedestrian crossings, and tactile signs, were all introduced around neighbourhood institutions, including schools, kindergartens and nurseries in the northern part of Törökőr. At the heart of the area there is also a park with playgrounds, sport-fields, and greenery. Many children use the park, especially after school, but a busy street with car-traffic caused safety issues nearby. As part of the project, measures were implemented to connect the two parts of the park and make it safer. Also, streets were closed to cars to make way for neighbourhood festivals and neighbourhood activities. The measures implemented were also based on several surveys and analysis (e.g. hands-up surveys in educational institutions about children’s mobility modes, online surveys for parents on the topic of safety and mobility in the area).
- Underpass redesign: An underpass was redesigned to create a safer and better-connected intersection for pedestrians and cyclists. This was achieved by raising the intersection, adding curb extensions and installing a new pavement.
- Speed-reduction measures: The area around Tábornok Street became safer for pedestrians and children. A 30kph zone was introduced, physical elements (speed bumps, curb extensions) were implemented, and the one-way streets were opened to two-way cycling. The main goal of all the investments was to improve child’s safety through better mobility. Residents reported feeling safer after the implementations.
Plans to roll out the project have now expanded from the neighbourhood to the city level. The mayor of Törökőr has recently been elected to the position of Mayor of Budapest which has helped the rollout to gain traction city-wide.
These implementations show that with the right level of interest and investment, real, scalable change can happen.
The main results of the project can be read in this online publication.
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