How are the Living Labs tackling traffic safety and air pollution?

The three LOOPER Living Labs have been actively co-creating solutions for urban problems in the past year. In Brussels, a traffic calming campaign will launched. In Manchester, pilot interventions on traffic calming and greening are currently being developed. In Verona, several measures to improve air quality and traffic safety are being tested.

Brussels

Raising awareness about the presence of children in the streets has been selected as the idea that will be executed in the spring of 2019 in order to improve traffic safety in the Helmet district in the north of Brussels. The idea will be developed and executed together with La Gerbe AMO, a local centre for after school care.

After defining the problem of the Brussels Living Lab in the spring of 2018 and collecting data on traffic safety in Helmet over the summer, citizens used the LOOPER idea platform to submit over 40 ideas to improve traffic safety in the fall of 2018. A selection of five ideas was made together with citizens, the municipality of Schaerbeek, and traffic safety experts. The five selected ideas were:

  • improving signalisation at a dangerous crossing;
  • finding alternative biking routes to avoid a busy street;
  • setting up a campaign to make streets safer for children;
  • making streets more narrow using temporary constructions;
  • indicating drivers’ speeds with a digital sign.

Analysis from traffic safety experts and researchers from VUB-MOBI showed that none of the five ideas would have a negative impact on the sustainability of the area or would negatively impact stakeholders. Based on this analysis and a survey that was sent to citizens, it was decided by citizens that the campaign to make streets safer for children will be executed in the spring of 2019.

Manchester

LOOPER Manchester moved through several stages of its learning loop during the second half of 2018. Having confirmed Brunswick residents’ key concerns (i.e. air quality; traffic volume and safety; improving community spaces; greening the neighbourhood; and feeling safe and secure), we moved onto the monitoring phase focusing particularly on air quality as many residents said they were worried about air pollution and its effects on health. We also looked at speed and volume of traffic along busier roads and tried to capture residents’ reflections about different areas of the neighbourhood that they particularly liked or disliked. In September we did a monitoring blitz assisted by a visiting colleague from Brussels. We then felt that we were ready to move onto developing solutions.

During October we gathered (online and offline) residents’ ideas about how to address the problems that had been identified in Brunswick. We used projections of 360-degree photos of the neighbourhood (and some participants got a chance to experience these images with a virtual reality headset) to engage people in discussing potential solutions. We then asked them to draw or write their proposed solutions on prints of the images. (There was also always the option to describe their ideas verbally or in writing.)

The proposed solutions were collated and presented to the multi-stakeholder group that participated in an interactive workshop on 19 November to evaluate the desirability and feasibility of the proposed improvements to the public realm in Brunswick. This input helped orient choices about which solutions should be piloted beginning in early 2019. Many participants in the stakeholder workshop volunteered to get involved in next steps and groups focused on traffic calming and on greening are now at work in developing the pilot interventions.

Some more details about the above activities are available at http://manchester.looperproject.eu/news-events/

Verona

During the co-design meetings on October 5, October 17, and October 31, 2018, set of possible mitigation solutions were chosen to be applied in South Verona. The solutions that are to be implemented between February – April 2019 are:

  • Closure of via Ottavio Caccia from the via Golosine side in order to create a safe pedestrian area where citizens can aggregate. The street will remain accessible for residents’ vehicles only. The closure will begin with a few days during the weekend (24 February, 10 March, 24 March and 31 Marc 2019) to test it and if the results are positive it will be implemented in a permanent way.
  • Implementation of crosswalk islands outside the primary school located in via Colonnello Fasoli with some urban furniture to slow down passing cars and allow children to have a safer crossing outside their school.

  • Closure of via Udine at entrance/exit hours of schools. An extra intervention will be the presence of the local police to make everyone observes the 30km/h speed limit.

Due to bureaucratic aspects of the implementation, other proposed mitigation solutions  will be implemented later in 2019.

To evaluate the results of the implementation of the mitigation solutions a second co-monitoring campaign started the 15 February 2019 and will last until the second week of April 2019. The results of the second co-monitoring campaign will then be compared with the ones from the first co-monitoring campaign which took place between February and April 2018 to define if the situation changed, and how it changed.

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