Children benefit from European cities’ urban mobility awards

Four European cities have been recognised as ‘powerful examples’ of how cities can be made safer for pedestrians and cyclists, including several innovations designed specifically for children.

Unveiling its latest sustainable mobility award winners, the European Commission said Brussels, Pontevedra (Spain), Kruševac (Serbia) and Karditsa (Greece) had shown the role that local leaders can play in making their cities safer, cleaner and more sustainable.

The awards recognise activities carried out in 2019 under the theme ‘safe walking and cycling’, which also extended to innovations to improve urban play facilities for children and reduce traffic speed outside schools. The winning cities were selected by an independent panel of mobility and transport experts.

‘Inspiration for towns and cities’

Adina Vãlean, EU Commissioner for Transport, said: “I hope this can serve as inspiration for towns and cities who are rethinking their mobility strategies, not least in the wake of the current pandemic.”

The winners

Krusevac, Serbia: winner of the EuropeanMobilityWeek Award 2019 for larger municipalities.

The Serbian city of Kruševac impressed the jury with its wide range of activities, underpinned by strong citizen participation and political support from the local government. Even the mayor was ‘walking the walk’, coming to work by foot to help spread this year’s mobility message.

During EuropeanMobilityWeek 2019, the city streets enjoyed a new burst of life without cars, not only in the centre – which was taken over by pedestrians – but also in the suburbs, where people organised a variety of activities. The face of the city was also transformed, with the installation of new cycle paths, walkways, public squares, urban parks, benches and even children’s swings.

The other finalists were Rethymno (Greece) and Wrocław (Poland).

Karditsa, Greece: winner of the EuropeanMobilityWeek Award 2019 for smaller municipalities.

Karditsa impressed the jury with its use of promotional materials and partnerships to support sustainable mobility. During EuropeanMobilityWeek 2019, the city partnered with dozens of organisations including schools, music academies, government departments, police, fire brigade, civil society organisations and businesses. There were also benefits for companies that introduced sustainable mobility measures. The other finalists were Alfândega da Fé (Portugal) and Paide (Estonia).

Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium: winner of the 8th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning.

Brussels-Capital Region has set itself clear and ambitious sustainable mobility goals, which include having zero road traffic deaths by 2030, restricting car usage, reducing the speed limit to 30km per hour by 2021, and increasing the number of pedestrianised zones. The jury was particularly impressed by its approach to reaching these goals, which sees the city as an ecosystem. The city’s achievements are underpinned by strong stakeholder outreach, impressive citizen participation, and the implementation of “superblocks”, an innovative urban planning concept. The other finalists were Kaunas (Lithuania) and Wrocław (Poland).

Pontevedra, Spain: winner of the first EU Urban Road Safety Award.

Pontevedra reduced road fatalities in the city consistently since 1999, impressively achieving zero road deaths between 2011 and 2018. A host of measures ensure that safety and sustainability go hand-in-hand. The city used a clear and careful monitoring strategy to identify which policies are effective and which need to be updated, resulting in increased active mobility, such as walking and cycling.

In Pontevedra, 80 per cent of children aged from six to 12 walk to school by themselves. The jury was impressed by the city’s diverse measures, including reducing speed limits to 10-30km/h and creating more public spaces that are attractive for pedestrians. The other finalists were Jaworzno (Poland) and Ordu (Turkey).

The EuropeanMobilityWeek campaign runs from 16-22 September each year, providing towns and cities with an opportunity to test out sustainable transport alternatives. In 2019, more than 3,100 towns and cities registered to participate in the campaign, making it the most successful year yet.

Author: Simon Weedy

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