On March 26, 2019, the CityWalk projects Conference on Walkability took place in the City Hall of Oradea. The Conference, hosted by the project partner Municipality of Oradea was a final 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 Conference 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.
Welcome speech on behalf of the host, Mircea Mălan, Vice-mayor of Oradea was followed by a presentation on the CityWalk projects origin story done by Danilo Čeh, Dr Miklós Lukovics and Béla Kézy. They presented the development of the project from the idea to the present day, all important project deliverables and steps for the future. In their presentation, they actively involved all participants with the use of voting through the app on issues related to walking. The results showed that walking is indeed important for all of us.
The Conference on Walkability 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 the design of the cities, the environmental impact of traffic, pedestrian infrastructure, awareness raising among citizens and policies and regulations.
The topic of the first panel – “Cities made for walking” – was moderated and introduced by Béla Kézy (from MEGAKOM Development Consultants). The presentations of Mihai Pașcalău (an architect, expert of urban mobility support department from Regional Development Agency of the North-West Region in Romania), Dacian Palladi (Oradea City Manager), and Antal Gertheis (Mobilissimus Kft.) addressed the issues of street design and pedestrian infrastructure, awareness raising and education and policies and regulations regarding pedestrian areas in the city. ‘’People want to have it all. They want to be able to take a walk in the park and then drive to some other location to do their errands. It is common to own more than one car as everyone wants to have options for different activities. People do not control themselves when buying cars; this is why I believe building more parking spaces is not enough. Instead of building more garages, residents should be provided with transport options that are more sustainable, similar to what is done in Sweden where new neighbourhoods are designed in a car un-friendly way. Instead, residents are provided with car sharing options and effective public transport commuting options.’’ said Antal Gertheis.
The second panel – “Urban environment – sustainable urban planning and design” – continued under the chairman Danilo Čeh from Scientific Research Centre Bistra Ptuj (Slovenia). Prof. Aleksandar Slaev (from University of Varna), Ciprian Barna (a mobility expert from Oradea Metropolitan Area) and Matej Ogrin (from Cipra Slovenia) 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. Expert in traffic geography, Matej Ogrin explained the importance of including the public in designing public transport: “People need to be involved in the process of designing public transport, everyone uses it. It is ethical to ask users what they think. Asking people for their opinion is not a sign of weakness; it is a question of self-awareness. If people are asked to contribute, we can achieve great success. Public participation is important because it contributes to awareness raising.’’
Danilo Čeh from Scientific Research Centre Bistra Ptuj, the project lead partner concluded the Conference on Walkability with the words of the famous song by the Beatles:
''You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
and the cities will be more walkable''.