The municipality of Lisbon through a public participation procedure for cycling investments, shows the need for a more economic and human-centric city.
In recent decades urban planning has focused mainly on the “physical” development of cities. Although this method of planning still applies, the needs of urban communities have changed. The aging population, the growing urbanisation, the adoption of co-creative ways of governance and the economic crisis lead to an urgent need for cities more sustainable from the economic, environmental and social point of view. There is no room for investments in extended construction of infrastructure. The policies focus has changed towards managing the existing urban infrastructure and towards changing people’s mentality to a more sustainable future.
In the spirit of this new era of planning, a few days ago, LisbonMunicipality organized a public consultation. On the 10th of April at the city hall, the consortium of the European project CycleCities present, the Municipality of Lisbon invited representatives of various local community organizations to submit two proposals concerning cycling measures/ policies for funding. The budget was 150,000€ and 500,000€ respectively. About 40 people participated (scientists, cyclists, planners, etc.), divided into 5 groups. Each group made two proposals, one for each budget. 8 proposals were finally submitted to voting by all participants. The proposals were a combination of knowledge and every day experience, adapted in the economic and social environment of Lisbon.
The proposals referred to:
1. Renting a small area for municipal bicycle parking.
2. Creating bicycle parking spaces near subway, trains and buses stations.
3. Creating bicycle parking spaces by replacing one or two car parking places at roadside parking areas, which will be scattered in residential or commercial areas, e.g. one per block. No severe reactions are expected to occur since the reduction of the above mentioned car parking would be negligible.
4. Installing equipment for bicycle parking in the school yards and organizing training courses for bicycle riding for pupils.
5. Constructing cycle paths in two major streets of the city.
6. Adopting incentives for cycling in commuting from house to work.
7. Application of soft, low cost measures over the whole area of the city in order to reduce car speed and to enhance safer movement of bicycles.
8. Transforming city centre into a car free area.
The proposals 2 and 4 were selected. It should be noted that the LisbonMunicipality reserves the right to fund other projects that did not go through a similar procedure.
Unlike previous similar procedures, the important thing was that only one proposal concerned construction of bicycle paths. The majority of proposals prioritize low cost measures/ policies, which could be expanded across the city, so that fair distribution of resources would be succeeded. The proposals did not promote fragmented physical measures but they integrated cycling in the city as in policies referring to public transport, car and walking. This attitude is indicative of the change in people’s mindsets. Planners, experts, as well as non experts do not longer think about large scale interventions, symbolic of lifestyle aspiration, but they are adapted to the new reality of city life aiming at more economic, socially equal, and human cities, communities and neighbourhoods.
Avgi Vassi is a member of the Sustainable Mobility Unit of the National Technical University of Athens. She is interested in cycling, walking, shared mobility and the integration of urban planning and transport.