Reclaiming Street Space: Cooperation for Neighbourhood Transformation
This scenario has been developed on the basis of a real-world case: Dealing flexibly with and learning from resistance in Barcelona
Imagine your city's streets not being dominated by cars but by people. Streets are a place of social gatherings, a place where children play and neighbours meet, a place of interaction, where they are urban hotspots!
How can we get there?
Reaching this reality would mean to largely rethink our transport and mobility system (Q3). In many places, cars are the dominating mode of transport, which is leading to air and noise pollution, accelerating climate change and making urban life less healthy. Combatting these issues is also a matter of justice as poorer people are generally more affected by environmental degradation, pollution and the effects of climate change. Additionally, streets right now mainly serve as transport routes, but have lost social functions that they have once had (Q9).. Giving streets their old functions back also means targeting injustices created by urban intensification and the unjust effects of a weak civil society such as the exclusion of marginalized groups in urban governance.
How could a municipality address these problems?. Who would municipal actors need to work with, who would they have to include?
It seems like a complete overhaul of such a deep-rooted problem would necessitate working together with all kinds of local stakeholders be it local businesses, NGOs or academia (Q12) but especially crucial seems to have local residents on board (Q13) . Such a city-wide transformation would also have to adapt to local particularities. Formalised local working groups that regularly meet and are responsible for designing the process in each neighbourhood could give citizens responsibility and power over their neighbourhood while also including a variety of other actors that want to participate (Q13, Q15). For this to work, it is necessary that municipalities safeguard their power to govern their local transport system (Q19). Additionally, connecting the process to other local level sustainable development policies and agreements in different sectors can give the project legitimacy and help develop holistic visions for comprehensive change (Q18). The better integrated specific solutions are into bigger developments of change, the easier it is to believe in grand opportunities of change and the power of a shared vision! (Q19) If this happens, sustainable developments may be achievable even with comparatively little extra spending (Q21).
In what ways can municipalities deal with and learn from potential local resistance?
As this process hinges upon working together with citizens, it is crucial that citizens feel they are an integral part of it. Still, municipality-led processes might encounter local resistance, potentially because residents do not believe in the effectiveness of the process and its ability to change the current situation or because they fear potential negative consequences (Q23). For example, some may question whether public transport can provide enough capacity to cushion the reduction of private car usage or worry that commuting to work would take too long (Q23). To address such concerns, it may be important to tackle the substance of such problems, but it could also be important to change the process, especially how participation is organised (Q24).
Why should municipalities look at similar projects in the past to ensure more just participation in the future?
Looking at learning outcomes from past projects in your own city can further help the process in overcoming obstacles. This might mean that experiences from past policies in similar sectors, for example making streets more pedestrian-friendly can prove vital here (Q27). It might even be the case that resistance in the past against other municipality-led projects have voiced the same concerns. This might help in finding solutions for overcoming those obstacles as well as encouraging project proponents to not give up if things do not go as originally planned (Q27). In the end, this general flexibility in how the project has to develop could lead to improved methods of communication and participation in the future (Q28). Finally, communicating with media about ideas within the project can help pique the interest of other cities and spread knowledge to other urban areas (Q33).
How could this reality be created in your city? What obstacles would have to be overcome?
Do you want to learn more about this scenario?
Take a look at the detailed description of Dealing flexibly with and learning from resistance in Barcelona that has inspired this scenario. This intervention is about the municipality in Barcelona
This scenario fits under the approaches:
It addresses some drivers of injustice:
- Uneven and exclusionary urban intensification and regeneration.
- Unquestioned Neoliberal growth and austerity urbanism.
- Lack of effective knowledge brokerage and stewardship opportunities
- Limited citizen participation in urban planning
- Uneven environmental health and pollution patterns
- Weak(ened) civil society