Miklós Lukovics & Béla Kézy from CityWalk give some insights about their project!
The City - A Safe Space for Pedestrians
Looking throughout history, most cities were built for pedestrians while walking was the main mean of transportation. In the early 1920s, Henry Ford’s popularization of the mass production of cars gave place to significant changes in urban planning. Consequently, walking was downgraded to a rather small part of city life. Today, cars demand an increasing amount of space and thus crunch sidewalks, and public and green spaces away from citizens.
While the pros and cons of industrialization and personal vehicles could be extensively debated, one thing is crystal clear. The situation in cities as it stands today engenders harmful consequences on the social, environment, public health, and economic well-being of cities.
“Cities are supposed to be for people and not for cars”
While one could easily agree with the statement above, recent urban development has unfortunately proved us the opposite. In this uphill battle to save cities and their inhabitants, the CityWalk project has placed itself as key player and leader!
Who are Miklós Lukovics & Béla Kézy?
We met up in Budapest and they explained us everything about their lively project!
CityWalk – A Way Forward!
Walkability needs to be handled in an integrated way. As such, the CityWalk project displays a short, medium and a long-term strategy on sustainable urban mobility. With partners from 9 countries (Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Austria, and Serbia), the project aims to mainstream walkability as a concept and promote its benefits and high potential.
CityWalk helps cities in the Danube Region to reduce their pollution (emissions, noise), and improve the safety and the quality of life of citizens. More specifically, it searches to increase the role of more sustainable and active forms of transportation. CityWalk targets people responsible for developing cities. In that sense, it aims to help cities establish their long-term sustainable development strategies, and to design and implement urban development projects, with a climate-friendly approach.
When talking about walkability and ensuring a holistic and comprehensive perspective, it is crucial to involve partners from different countries, from different cultures, dealing with different size of cities. It enables the sharing of best practices and the creation of common practices and methodologies in the field of sustainable urban mobility and transport. This explains why CityWalk has been supported by the Danube Transnational Programme, as more cities make it a priority, the greater the impact of this project will be!
Steps to get there…
A base-line study establishing a state of the art, and looking into walkability issues in the partnering cities.
A walkability planning guide to support cities in their walkability strategy - “how to improve walkability on a city level”.
A walkability guide gathering simple and inexpensive changes cities can make to improve walkability: infrastructural changes, communication and promotional changes, how to pedestrianize areas, optimise, enhance, and improve public transports…
Example of improvement: instead of indicating the number of kilometres to the city centre, indicate the number of minutes it takes to walk there!
An index measurement method (like the American Walk score) through an application and a website: people will be able to answer questions about walking facilities, so as to calculate the walkability level of an area and to provide the city with advice on how to improve it.
Why you should join the walk!
Apart from the fact that walking helps people live longer, be happier, more creative, and civically responsible, it also improves traffic safety, makes neighbourhoods more vibrant, fosters social interaction, builds inclusiveness, strengthens community identity and connects people across generations.
Walking also reduces health care costs and air pollution, cuts ambient noise, helps improve urban microclimates, makes cities more beautiful, increases active use of space, promotes sustainable behaviors, boosts the economy, helps local business, increases tourism, encourages more investment, saves money on construction and maintenance, can be a tool for urban regeneration, supports cultural heritage… and is universally applicable!
The project has been so far widely accepted, and when asked to describe people’s reactions to the project, Miklós and Béla say, “people really appreciate and are interested in CityWalk, it makes them happy and smile!”