10 measures to give the city back to people
MUBi's Manifesto for the 2021 Local Elections
The current decade will be shaped by a profound redefinition of urban mobility and public space in Portuguese cities. The priorities of the 20th century or the first two decades of this century are no longer applicable to Portugal today, with people demanding greener, safer, and healthier places to live more than ever before. The 2021 Local Elections represent an opportunity for Portuguese municipalities to make a broad and firm commitment to a real paradigm shift in urban and mobility policies, prioritising walking, cycling, public transport, and shared mobility systems, over individual car use.
Besides other factors, the quality of life in cities and municipalities can be measured by the amount and diversity of green spaces and the quality for staying and using public spaces. Especially in more densely built-up urban areas, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated once again how important public space is as a place for physical activity, recreation, and relaxation, as well as the value that proximity to basic social functions brings to the strength of the communities.
Urban centres are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and road transport is the main cause of air pollution in cities. Climate goals and commitments for this decade are therefore placing a huge demand on urban areas. The European Union plans to support 100 european cities in their systemic transformation towards carbon neutrality by 2030. An opportunity, challenge, and example for every single Portuguese municipality.
Despite continuous appeals from society, either individually or collectively, Portuguese municipalities have not acted decisively yet towards prioritising active and sustainable mobility.
This manifesto therefore sets out a vision for healthier, safer, more resilient and more sustainable cities, that put active mobility – including cycling – at the top of the mobility pyramid, and it proposes the priority steps to achieve that goal.
Plan the Future
What does that mean?
Plan mobility, involving every citizen
The growing complexity of urban mobility and its continuously-evolving dialogue require integrated strategic planning, based on a clear vision of sustainable development. It is key that a more equitable and socially fair accessibility future is created by every citizen. Decision making processes must be transparent from diagnostics, to planning, to execution.
Engage in formal planning processes in order to ensure transparency and participation from early stages, ensuring solutions that are built with inputs from the community during every stage. Planning means to accept approved and published commitments, with targets and indicators, open to public monitoring and accountability. Independently of the size of the municipality, the plan must set forth a continuous planning and participative management process – broad, consistent, structured and transparent.
prioritising active mobility and public transportin order to reduce automobile dependence.
Reduce social and territorial inequalities by means of policies that broaden access to activities, services, and opportunities regardless of age or social class, in a safe, attractive and sustainable manner – promoting the integration of the transport system and mobility policies, coordinated with land-use planning that favours proximity, mixed uses and a built environment that is inclusive and fair by design.
Establish mechanisms to ensure public engagement in the municipal activities with impact on urban mobility, by encouraging participation on the various stages of planning and everyday management processes.
Protect everyday life
What does that mean?
The loss of human life due to road traffic is unacceptable.
Portuguese cities have some of the worst European indicators concerning the safety of vulnerable road users.
Implementing Road Safety Plans, approved and published with the adoption of Vision Zero and limiting urban speeds up to 30 km/h . The safety of the most vulnerable users must be achieved using the following hierarchy:
- Reducing motorised traffic volumes;
- Reducing motorised traffic speeds;
- Treating intersections;
- Redistributing public space, widening sidewalks and providing safe and comfortable cycling infrastructure.
Promote and implement physical traffic calming and management measures aiming at reducing road risks, especially in residential areas, urban centres, and other places where vulnerable road users coexist with motorised vehicles
Limit through traffic and reduce speeds around schools (within a 300m radius), creating safer and less polluted surroundings. Promote active mobility among the school community
Design for all
What does that mean?
Public space must belong to everyone and be for everyone.
Many people don’t feel that public space is safe or comfortable, depriving children and the elderly of their rights to autonomy and freedom.
Walking is the universal base of human travel. Thus, it is essential to ensure a public space that, respecting universal design principles, is inclusive, safe, and comfortable for all ages and physical conditions. Automobile parking and bicycle infrastructure on sidewalks is unacceptable.
Promote actions to ensure walking infrastructure, with wide sidewalks and broad, accessible, and safe crosswalks. Prioritise the existence of squares and places of stay, and the use of public space in the lives of communities.
Ensure universal accessibility to all infrastructure and mobility services, thus not excluding people with disability, with reduced mobility, or with all kinds of vulnerabilities (the elderly, children, pregnant women, among others).
What does that mean?
Shape and change the mobility culture, namely to decision makers and politicians.
30% of all automobile traffic corresponds to trips with distances shorter than 3km, and 50% are shorter than 5 km.
Change mobility patterns with school mobility plans all over the county and to the main mobility destinations (starting, for example, with the town hall sites). Increase cycling as a mean of transport must always correspond to a reduction in automobile use.
Public transport must be the backbone of urban mobility at the city and regional scales. It is thus essential to invest in public transport, promoting its complementarity and multimodality with the active transport modes.
Implement policies, infrastructure, and equipment aiming at encouraging cycling as a mobility mode, with special attention paid to the school communities and train station catchment areas: path networks and safe and comfortable parking, shared bicycle systems, purchase and usage incentives for bicycles.
Improve public transport, ensuring geographical coverage, affordable prices and quality of service
Discourage traveling by private automobile, which should always be worked in parallel with measures to encouraging active travel and public transport – mainly by reducing automobile parking capacity and increasing the price of automobile parking in urban areas, restructuring the road network to discourage or eliminate through traffic in neighbourhoods, on school streets, in historical centres, and other urban areas,and introduce reduced emission zones and tariffed entrance in cities by automobile.