4 months ago

Going Green – Experiencing the Ecomobile Lifestyle

ISBN 978-3-86859-512-3

EcoMobility World

EcoMobility World Festivals Lessons from three EcoMobility World Festivals The success of the three festivals required the involvement and commitment of a large set of people and institutions. Three preliminary conclusions can be drawn based on the four years of EcoMobility World Festivals: l l First, learn from each other! The festivals have proved to serve as a valuable platform for exchange within and amongst cities. The host cities visited each other and learned from each other. Furthermore, the accompanying international congresses organized by ICLEI enabled experience exchange between cities and stakeholders worldwide. l l Second, use the festival for something bigger! All three host cities used the festival as a catalyst for transforming urban mobility in a sustainable manner. The festivals enabled mutual learning, communication, and were testing grounds for larger mobility strategies on municipal, regional, and national levels. l l Third, not only the visible is relevant. The true value of the festivals is not completely visible in public space and in the individual mobility behaviors, but is also found behind the scenes. Opponents and supporters of the festivals lived side-by-side. On a neighborhood level, the festivals necessitated debates that were a good foundation for finding both common visions and the motivation to transform the neighborhood in a desirable way.After approximately two years of discussions, disputes, cooperation, and pre-tests, the city administration and the local population got to know each other better. This is a good basis for everything to come. New forms of collaboration have also been developed within the city administrations. City departments that usually have little in common joined efforts to make the festivals possible. The established networks can be used for further projects as well. Being large-scale projects with many resources and tremendous publicity involved, the festivals acted as crystallization points for new discussions on urban mobility policies, public space and personal mobility behavior. Suwon 2013— one month without cars At first it sounded like a joke—making an entire neighborhood car-free for a whole month. But Mayor Tae-young Yeom (photo, wearing green jacket) was serious. He was convinced that hosting the first EcoMobility World Festival would be a step into the future for his city: Suwon was becoming more and more congested with cars, which created not only noise and air pollution, but also unsafe surroundings for children and elderly. After two years of preparations, construction works, discussions with residents and consultations on an international level, Haenggung-dong neighborhood was transformed overnight. The cars left the area, and what remained was street space available for people to be mobile by foot, on bicycles and on tricycles, with strollers, wheelchairs and the like; space for children to play, for elderly people to share a cup of tea, and for artists to be creative. Visitors from all over Korea came to experience the ecomobile lifestyle, something, they are usually deprived of due to congested roads, parked cars, and noise and air pollu- 52

EcoMobility World Festivals tion. After the month, Mayor Yeom consulted the neighborhood—was it worthwhile? Yes, it was. While the cars came back, the residents decided on a general speed limit and limited parking areas: the festival enabled them to experience and test what the future could be like. The ecomobile spirit remains and a neighborhood group visited the Kaohsiung festival to discuss experiences and the common aim: to become ecomobile—not for a month, but forever. Johannesburg 2015— commuting without the car Finding ecomobile commuting options for 100,000 commuters—that’s a bit too much of a challenge, isn’t it? Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau (photo, wearing green helmet) and his team did not hesitate and believed this would be the correct step towards both reducing emissions and road congestion and making mobility in the city more just. By hosting the second EcoMobility World Festival in the central business district Sandton, the city tackled several challenges at once: decongesting the CBD, reclaiming urban street space, and testing initiatives for climate change mitigation. Furthermore, the festival became part of the city’s strategy to overcome urban segregation, a legacy of Apartheid that has tremendous effects on distances and modes of commuting to and from the workplace. Park and ride areas, separated bus lanes, additional public transport offers, free shuttle buses, new bicycle lanes, and last mile solutions were just some of the city’s steps to encourage ecomobile commuting. The experiences of commuters, businesses, and residents were discussed in real-time via social media and are now a good foundation for improving the city’s mobility further and “stitching the city back together”. What started as a courageous idea soon became a city-wide, nationally and even internationally relevant test-run for being ecomobile not just for fun, but for real. • 53