On November 28, 2017 the projects Transnational Symposium took place in Conference congress centre in the Dominican monastery Ptuj. The Symposium, hosted by the projects lead partner – the Scientific Research Centre Bistra Ptuj – was a mid-term thematic and publicity project event that served as a platform for higher level consultation forum for experts, EU level actors, policy-makers and to enrich project outcome. The symposium addressed the obstacles of sustainable forms of mobility in the cities. In the course of the Danube Transnational Program capitalization strategy, this event provided the opportunity to create synergies in the field of sustainable mobility.
The key speaker of the event Jim Walker presented the aspects, challenges and research findings regarding walkability issues in the cities all around the world. Jim Walker is the founder and promotor of “Walk21” international charity dedicated to promote more walking. Its aim is to help make walking an enjoyable part of daily transport, recreation and health through effective policies, programmes and planning all over the world. The informal network that has grown and reaches almost every corner of the globe, has been instrumental to the renaissance of professional, political and community interest in walking. The model aims to be comprehensive, authoritative and inclusive for those with both direct and indirect interest in walking, and represents the full geographic extent of the movement. It embraces individuals as well as organisations and it is giving people, local authorities, businesses, organisations and institutions the opportunity to demonstrate their interest in and commitment to walking. Walk21 aims to catalyse action for walking as a sustainable model by consolidating the efforts of partner cities and organisations into a high profile initiative to support ambition and momentum to construct or rehabilitate 100.000 km of dedicated, safe, barrier free sidewalks by 2030 - with a focus on transport hubs.
The second part of the CityWalk Symposium continued with two different dialogue panels, both featuring the thematic experts from the field of urban planning who were discussing the issues of the sustainable urban planning and design of the cities, environmental impact of traffic, pedestrian infrastructure, awareness rising among citizens and policies and regulations.
The topic of the first panel – “Cities made for walking” – was moderated and introduced by Béla Kézy (MEGAKOM Development Consultants). The presentations of dr. Jernej Tiran (Anton Melik Geographical Institute, SRZ SAZU), Marko Peterlin (Institute for Spatial Policies Slovenia), Mirjam Luketič and dr. Andreja Kuzmanić (both ZUM urbanism, planning, designing d.o.o.) addressed the issues of street design and pedestrian infrastructure, awareness raising and education and policies and regulations regarding pedestrian areas in the city. “Some people do not have a choice to select their preferable transport mode but in the developed countries, they do – and choosing a motorized transport mode instead can lead to lack of physical activity, higher carbon footprint, fewer social contacts, weaker health and obesity issues. So, although walking is the most natural way of moving, its choice is not self-evident. We have less time, we live in a car-oriented society, and spatial planning do not always consider human scale. But we somehow need to encourage people to walk again” said Jernej Tiran.
The second panel – “Urban environment - sustainable urban planning and design” – continued under the chairman prof. Aleksandar D. Slaev from Varna Free University. dr. Luka Mladenovič (Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia), Andras Ekes (Mobilissimus Ltd.) and mag. Polona Andrejčič Mušič (CISUM raziskave in razvoj) discussed what makes a city sustainable and climate friendly, the issues of spatial planning for sustainability, and the architectural and urban design in sustainable mobility. Consultant for traffic safety and urban landscape integrated traffic design mag. Polona Andrejčič Mušič explained an architectural view point on walkability: “High quality, unobstructed pedestrian footpaths provide basic mobility for all. Furthermore, landscaping elements and active building edges transform walkways into vibrant public spaces. A dense walking routes network should result in short, varied and direct connections that improve access to goods, service and public transport.”
The Symposium the CityWalk project partners and their stakeholders also met in Terme Ptuj for the 2-day walkability training course. Urban development experts Béla Kézy, prof. Aleksandar Slaev, Peter Nikolov and Zoltán Barna-Lázár were moderating the training that included an introduction into the key principles of walkability, understanding the pedestrians, the context and planning of the walkability planning documents, and clarified the expectations. The partners were also working on preparing neighbourhood walkability plans, talking about the field test process and how to improve walkability with the examples of walkability interventions.
The next partnership meeting of the project is planned for April 2018, when the Municipality of Weiz will host all CityWalk partners in Austria.,