The partners of the HEAT project got together in Stockholm on 17-18 September to proceed with the project implementation and to discuss participatory urban planning in a seminar with local traffic planners. Successful experiences about citizen participation in traffic planning in Scandinavia were introduced.
Towards successful practices with open communication
Linda Kummel from Stockholm’s ArkDes museum – also the location of the seminar – gave an introduction on the cycling strategy process executed in Oslo. The strategy addressed the issue of low cycling rates in Oslo. The goal was to motivate the citizens to choose a bicycle instead of a car in their daily life. The mobility habits in Oslo were observed and taken in to account in the strategy work. By focusing on the actual issues encountered by the citizens, Oslo managed to increase the modal share of cycling from 16 to 25% and the attitude towards cycling in Oslo has taken a more positive turn. Open communication has turned out to be one of the most significant success factors in the process.
The significance of communication and participatory planning was also in the focus of Lotta Olsson’s presentation about urban planning in the Swedish commune of Jönköping. An open, ongoing dialogue between the public officials and the citizens is nowadays a priority within the urban planning in Jönköping. Responding to citizens’ feedback and listening to their opinions have increased the citizens interest and understanding towards the factors and reasons behind local decision making. The local cyclists are considered as essential advisors in the development work of the cycling infrastructure. They often proactively invite planners to visit problematic locations. As a part of their cycling strategy implementation the municipal officers in Jönköping also arrange four open citizen meetings every year.
Digital applications as a participatory tool in traffic planning
During the HEAT-project the partners will be testing digital applications as participatory tools in regional traffic planning. Karin Lundgren from Spacescape – a consultancy specialised in urban research and design gave an example of successful digital participation processes with an application called Bästa Platsen. The app allows the users to share information on for example the safety or functions of a certain location by pinning and describing them on a map. The information is then utilized in urban planning. The main advantage of using a digital participatory tool is the ease of contribution when and wherever.
The inspiring presentations were followed up by a workshop focusing on more cycling-friendly and target group-oriented traffic planning. The conclusions of the workshop emphasized the value of holistic planning and the importance of increasing communication between citizens, planners and officers.
Project proceeding towards HEAT-calculations and participatory workshops
The next day the project team met up to discuss the next steps. The partner organizations will start training using the HEAT-tool to be able to promote it further to the local planners. In the theme of participatory planning the plan is to proceed with the benchmarking and evaluation of possible available digital applications that meet the needs of the project and are the most suitable for the focus groups in question.
Anna Sampo, Communication Specialist
Mikko Koskinen, Sustainable Mobility Specialist
Valonia –Service Centre for Sustainable Development and Energy of Southwest Finland