THE FRESH FACE OF URBAN MOBILITY
The Italian POLIS member Ravenna is a small-to-medium city with about 160,000 inhabitants and hosts the only commercial and tourist port in the Emilia Romagna Region. Yet, what the city lacks in size it makes up in sustainable mobility. Pasquale Cancellara spoke to Ravenna’s Mobility Planning Manager Nicola Scanferla to understand how the city has stayed ahead of the game
Ravenna’s new public transport offerings, © City of Ravenna
TC: Ravenna is a beautiful city and a popular tourist destination: how would you describe the overall state of urban mobility in the city? What are the main challenges and trends at the moment and what is the impact of tourism?
Nicola Scanferla (NS): Ravenna is a medium-sized city with a flat topography and this facilitates the mobility of bicycles and pedestrians, especially in the central and historical areas. The biggest challenge is to replicate this in many parts of the city where pedestrian areas were adopted during the pandemic and convince those people who are still doubtful about pedestrianisation to understand how important it is for the liveability of the city and the society. Having large pedestrian areas in the city centre improves tourists’ mobility by making the most valuable urban spaces more liveable and enjoyable. Another challenge will be to manage the development of the new cruise terminal that will be transformed into a “home port”, bringing with it all the problems related to the movement of passengers and supplies – an issue that must be handled with great care.
Interventions to encourage the use of public transport for all categories of users, © Nicola Scanferla
Having large pedestrian areas in the city centre improves tourists’ mobility by making the most valuable urban spaces more liveable and enjoyable,
TC: Ravenna has recently adopted a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), a forward-looking plan to make transport more accessible, integrated and greener for all citizens. What are the main actions you will take through your SUMP and how will they benefit the city?
NS: Our SUMP has focused on 11 different themes that address all the different aspects of sustainable mobility. Sustainability must be achieved through actions that are complementary and coordinated, not just single, isolated actions. All actions together will allow to continue the journey that the city and its inhabitants are making towards changing mobility habits, which I believe is one of our greatest challenges. The city and its inhabitants will discover the advantage of improving the safety of circulation, air quality and the liveability of places to enjoy throughout the day. This will be to the advantage of all categories of users, but above all of the most fragile categories.
Ravenna’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan
TC: What is, and will be, the role of the private car in Ravenna? Has COVID-19 changed priorities and plans?
NS: Ravenna is not a city fighting against cars. Rather, Ravenna is a city that wants to give the car a balanced role and empower its citizens to choose a balanced way of moving. A few years ago, the EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK campaign was titled “DO THE RIGHT MIX”. The motto was the slogan "Choose. Change. Combine”, all under the theme of Multimodality, which I believe is the way to engage citizens. The pandemic has emphasized walking and cycling as means of transport and this has been extremely positive because it is helping maintain these mobility habits in the long run. Now, we should also work very hard in order to get people back to using public transport – we would like citizens to fully trust public transport again.
A section of the cycle path from the city to the sea (12km), © Nicola Scanferla
The objectives of our city and of our planning tools have not changed because we believe that the situation will soon settle down. However, we are aware of the fact that the pandemic has showed us how to use our valuable public space in a different way, including valuing the possibility to reach destinations by foot and by bicycle.
Ravenna is not a city fighting against cars. Rather, Ravenna is a city that wants to give the car a balanced role and empower its citizens to choose a balanced way of moving
A street in Ravenna, © Pixbay
TC: Urban planning and mobility are linked: how is Ravenna making sure that this link is strengthened?
NS: This is an issue that fascinates and worries me at the same time because I would like to see it resolved very quickly. There are several cities in Europe that have already begun working on Urban Planning and mobility at the same time. I believe we should coin a new term that can encompass both with the designing and planning of the territory, together with a greater attention to people’s needs – the human factor. I often like to compare the design of a city to the work of a tailor who creates a dress where the pieces of cloth and the thread must have equal dignity. Well, in thinking or designing a city, the skill must be the same. Connecting functions, and in doing so, being able to reinvent a way of moving. A system in which functions can be enhanced without their achievement deteriorating the quality of that system. Ravenna has at this moment a great opportunity where both the Urban General Plan (Urban General Plan PUG) and the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) are being defined. We are working hard to get the best possible outcome.
Pedal power! Ravenna's new cycle infrastructure, ©City of Ravenna
TC: Finally, Ravenna has recently joined POLIS. How do you plan to be involved in POLIS' wide range of activities and working groups? How has your membership experience been so far?
NS: I believe that joining POLIS has been an excellent result achieved by our European Policies Office in collaboration with the Mobility Planning Office. Our Mobility Planning Office has important experience through the Emilia Romagna Region: in particular, it has worked on the regional coordination of cities, which has brought very important results in the field of sustainable mobility and on the definition of planning tools. We are eager to take up the opportunity of talking and meeting with other cities all over Europe – and beyond – that have developed different visions for the future of mobility. We are here to learn, listen, and collaborate. The first taste we had from some of the Working Groups has been great – exciting, even. If only I had time, I would participate in all the working groups myself!
We are aware of the fact that the pandemic has showed us how to use our valuable public space in a different way, including valuing the possibility to reach destinations by foot and by bicycle
Pioneering pedestrianisation, ©City of Ravenna
Ravenna as a POLIS Member
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