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Thriving Streets: a journey through the cities innovating mobility and public spaces for all

Eutropian collaborated with the URBACT III network focusing on sustainable mobility as engine for social and economic cohesion of local communities. This article is an overview of the knowledge produced by the network, shared through reports and factsheets produced in collaboration with experts and city practitioners.  

Making streets and public spaces better for people is a challenge shared by many local authorities around Europe. The reduction of cars circulating in cities can contribute not only to reduce GHG emissions but also to improve the quality of life for all. The active involvement of local communities in redesigning road infrastructure is key for improving sustainable mobility in urban areas, creating positive effects also on social and economic dimension of urban sustainability.

The URBACT network Thriving Streets focused on how mobility can be an engine for social cohesion and growth, but also for inclusivity and urban health. Parma led the network composed of nine European cities (Antwerp, London Southwark, Santo Tirso, Debrecen, Klaipeda, Igoumenitsa, Nova Gorica), which collaborated among them and with their local communities to co-design Integrated Action Plans to be implemented on medium and long term.

Eutropian collaborated with the experts of the project (Béla Kézy, Germana Di Falco, Simone d’Antonio, Claus Köllinger, Ian Wainwright) and the project coordinator (Patrizia Marani) to capture the knowledge that emerged from the network’s use a series of advanced methodological tools for supporting the different steps of integrated planning undertaken by the partners.

Thriving Streets produced a wealth of knowledge that is now available to decision makers, urban experts, practitioners and place-makers in a series of documents and publications aimed at inspiring who wants to intervene on urban mobility for improving quality of public spaces and social cohesion in local communities.

The Integrated Action Planning Report of Thriving Streets

The Final Report presents an overall vision of the action planning process, with a focus on the progress made by the project partners and the evolution of the debate on the topic of Thriving Streets at different levels.

The Action Planning journey made by the partners is carefully described highlighting the connection between the transnational learning process and its impact on the actions co-designed by local authorities and communities in the framework of the URBACT Local Groups. The description of approaches, methodologies and tools used by the cities for the action planning process offers an interesting view on a process that was rearranged mostly in an online form also due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Integrated Action Plans are described in a one-page format per city, offering a glimpse into the integrated planning process carried out by each partner, with a focus on main challenges, objectives and actions to be implemented on medium and long-term.

Thriving Streets in #Southwark. Photo (c) Urbact Thriving Streets Twitter

The Small-Scale Actions implemented by the cities in the framework of the network activities are presented with a focus on the results achieved at local level, the key-elements learnt by the cities in the process and the impact of these pop-up interventions, which contributed to foster temporary changes in view of the implementation of more structured activities or plans in the targeted areas.

The Thematic Reports of Thriving Streets

The Thematic Reports share the main lessons that emerged from the learning journey of the network, offering at the same time useful elements to those who wish to act on mobility soloutions for improving the quality of life at urban level.

The reports analyse different concepts and methods for rethinking urban streets recalling the subthemes followed by Thriving Streets and addressing some of the most pressing questions on the topic, such as how to move away from car dependency and create better conditions for active mobility or how to implement a transformation process for creating more thriving streets and public spaces.

Places for people, Thriving local economy, Thriving streets for all, Creating thriving communities to revive public spaces, Co-create thriving streets, Manage parking, Placemaking –thriving and vibrant public spaces in the making are the issues analysed with key points and examples of solutions and good practices implemented at European and global level, with a focus on challenges and lessons emerged from the action of Thriving Streets.

Why #Walkshops matter: a deep-dive and hands-on participative process to support urban regeneration in Parma. Photo (c) Urbact Thriving Streets Twitter

The reports highlight the main elements emerged from masterclasses and training sessions organised in the framework of the network activities, which served also as a platform for sharing some of the most forward-looking approaches and practices on mobility and public spaces for social and economic growth thanks to the support of experts and practitioners from all over Europe.

The Factsheets of Thriving Streets

The Factsheets describe the action carried out by the partners of the network (Parma, Antwerp, London Southwark, Santo Tirso, Debrecen, Klaipeda, Igoumenitsa, Nova Gorica, Oradea), focusing on the role played by mobility at the crossroad of various urban policies.

After a description of the city context, each factsheet highlights the main challenges leading to the co-design of the Integrated Action Plan together with the local stakeholders. The impact that the Small Scale Actions had in raising awareness on the urgency of acting on mobility and public spaces is showcased with concrete examples, which may serve as inspiration to other policy makers and practitioners.

The objectives of the action plan offer a clear view of how the interaction between mobility and public spaces will be addressed in the future with concrete projects, defined with the local community on the basis of the lessons learnt with Thriving Streets.

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