Ideas from street level can create social interaction! At the BAQ workshop of ICLEI Ecomobility and GPSM, Simon Ng from Walk pointed out, that walking space is not only about mobility. Moreover it creates a space to live improving the quality of life. The Ecomobility festival is one way to transform a city towards sustainable transport modes, while Deutsche Umwelthilfe triggers governments to treat the negative impacts of transport seriously.
The city of Suwon (Rep.Korea) faced strong opposition, the day they had announced that they would close some roads for a month. Citizens and businesses protested against the festival and its intension to pedestrianize the streets of the festival area. Yet, transport authorities didn’t give up, as the former vice Mayor Jeajoon Lee pointed out. As the festival began citizens realised the huge benefits of a walkable city centre. After the festival, 300 people participated in a town hall debate and eventually supported the concept. Lee estimates the positive economic effect of eco mobility Suwon up to 180 million dollars. Since the first festival, Suwon rolls out four additional car-free villages each year. This year Suwon plans to reach 20 car-free villages.
Kaohsiung City, a main industrial town at the island of Taiwan, plans repeat the success of the festival in 2017. For the ecomobility festival t
he largely oil producing city plans to transform into a low-carbon city. To reach its goal, it focuses on multi-modality. Solar powered bus stations, high frequency and better alignment of the metro and bus network will increase efficiency of the public transport network and attractiveness as Ching-Fu Chen, Transportation Bureau director general of Kaohsiung City pointed out.
Unfortunately, not all city government assign air quality and sustainable transport such importance. Dorothee Saar of Deutsche Umwelthilfe explained that many cities in Europe struggle to reach their air quality target. To fight air pollution many cities introduced Low Emissions Zones (LEZ). As LEZ rely on the vehicle emission standards, Deutsche Umwelthilfe insists on a strict enforcement and consequences following the diesel scandal. The NGO further suggests to include NOx emissions (Nitrogen oxides) in the scheme. Complementary to the technical solutions Saar puts its emphasis on behaviour change. Citizen tickets and corporate mobility schemes can trigger people to use sustainable modes. She also explains that most car drivers do not know to which extend they poison themselves with air pollution. To introduce long term strategies (as for example electro mobility), she recommends to complement them with short term goals.
Simon Ng, however, relies on ”ideas from the street” for the time being. Walking encourages active ageing and provides space for social interaction benefiting both social cohesion and health. Picked up right, and implemented in an overarching strategy policy makers can utilise sustainable mobility to bring their city an important step forward.