Volume 6 • No 2 • NOVEMBER 2019


Creating the living, breathing city

INSIDE cities' bid to manage the scarcest of resources: urban space


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THE VIEW Foreword Thinking


Karen Vancluysen and Kevin Borras introduce the novel concept of cities putting their inhabitants’ needs above those of the vehicles that clog and pollute their streets… but it’s not really novel at all

Urban space is scarce and therefore very valuable. Precisely because of that reason, managing urban space can be a very powerful tool for local and regional authorities when it comes to deciding which functions they want to allocate to which urban areas and which transport modes they choose to prioritise. For decades, the private car has claimed and has been granted, a major share of urban space, not only when driving around in cities but also, and even more so, while standing still. Today, the trend is to limit and reduce the space that cars occupy in city centres and to move from streets for cars to streets for people. Many cities have embraced and prioritised other and more sustainable transport modes for many years already, reflected in the way they have designed their streets and allocated space, for example to accommodate the bicycle in a safe, pleasant and convenient way, making it the fastest means to move around in a city. Dedicated bus lanes are another example of prioritising space for sustainable transport modes in cities. Offering seamless, multimodal and intermodal mobility to the citizen also requires giving space to high-quality interchanges and multimodal hubs that allow users to easily combine and switch modes. At the same time, a wide variety of new mobility services is entering the market, mostly at the initiative of private commercial players. They also claim their share of urban space. Sometimes they even represent new hybrid-type modes, such as electric kick scooters, which require new regulations and safety measures or even infrastructure, while ride-hailing services bring along pick-up and drop-off movements.

“Today, the trend is to move from streets for cars to streets for people”

And what about this other much-talked about innovation that is coming our way, automated transport? Will it make the use of urban space more efficient, will it release parking spaces for other purposes, or will it lead to even more kilometres driven and urban sprawl? And how much public space should we dedicate to electromobility infrastructure with the benefit being cleaner air? Or what about this new dimension that seems to be entering the game as well, namely air space and drones?

“Surely that should be a basic tenet of any city - that it's a safe, pleasant and even interesting or exciting place to live?”

Against the backdrop of all these changes and emerging innovations, cities and regions more than ever should be in the driver’s seat as managers of space. It is clear that space will need to be managed more dynamically and that its use may vary according to the time of day and changing needs or priorities. Also pricing the access to and the use of space is instrumental in the fight against both air pollution and congestion. The theme of this, the 13th issue of Thinking Cities, is Creating The Living, Breathing City. Or, to put it another way, this issue is concerned with the idea of the liveable city. Surely that should be a basic tenet of any city – that it’s a safe, pleasant and even interesting or exciting place to live? Otherwise, why live there? Why not move to another city where your needs are (largely) met? The cities that have contributed articles are not claiming to be perfect and to have solved every liveability problem that has come their way. Indeed, in some cases this is why they have contributed – they are sharing the measures they’ve taken and offering them as an idea. What worked in Trondheim (in fairness, what worked exceptionally well in Trondheim) might not have worked at all in the London Borough of Lewisham and vice versa. As the Polis Annual Conference returns to Brussels, a city where space is at a premium (and yes, we realise that this is an understatement), making the best use of space for the benefit of citizens rather than automobiles was a rather fitting topic to focus on. Is this particular race for space one that we can win? Read the 21 articles that follow our introduction and make your own mind up but it’s a fairly safe bet that we’re moving into a new era of city consciousness.

Karen Vancluysen is Secretary General of Polis. kvancluysen@polisnetwork.eu

Kevin Borras is editor-in-chief of Thinking Cities and content editor of H3B Connected. kevin@h3bm.com; h3bconnected.com

Editor-in-Chief Kevin Borras (kevin@h3bm.com) Secretary General, Polis Karen Vancluysen (kvancluysen@polisnetwork.eu) +32 (0) 2 500 56 70 Art Editor Barbara Stanley Editorial Team Kevin Borras, Karen Vancluysen, Alessia Giorgiutti, Francesco Ripa

Contributors to this issue Cyril Aillaud, Rico Andriesse, Lasse Brand, Liz Brooker, Lisa Marie Brunner, Diego Canales, Pasquale Cancellara, Dr Kiron Chatterjee, Marion Chollet, Dr Andy Cope, David Corner, Ivo Cré, Itai Dadon, Maya Ben Dror, Paul Fenton, Théo Fievet, Gustav Friis, Sidharta Gautama, Alessia Giorgiutti, Lacie Goff, Daniel Guzman Vargas, Yolla Hager, Daniel Herrera, Pedro Homem de Gouveia, Daphne van den Hurk, Allison Kelly, Alexandra Kershaw, Hans Kringstad, Olle Krönby, Dirk Lauwers, Giacomo Lozzi, Thomas Mourey, Esben Pejstrup, Dr Miriam Ricci, Francesco Ripa, Maria Jose Rojo Callizo, Ivana Semanjski, Simon Wind

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