In a year of turmoil, changes, and unrest, the world’s cities have not stopped making necessary improvements and working towards more sustainable solutions for their residents. From throughout the world, the Sustainable Transport Award (STA) Committee received an unprecedented 30 applications from cities making walking, cycling, and safety a priority.
Applications for the STA have come from all over the world and many continents: cities in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Australia have presented sustainable transportation projects. With the coronavirus causing disruptions in transportation, livelihoods, and governance, many cities are taking a renewed interest in sustainable transportation as a solution to much of the chaos brought about by the pandemic. This year the vast majority of the interventions were at human scale; projects that can greatly impact the quality of life of many urban residents.
Pedestrian and Road Safety
This year pedestrian safety was a frequent refrain among many interventions which created safer crosswalks, road safety measures, car-free areas, and expanded sidewalks. Some projects took on new urgency due to COVID-19 and the renewed interest that it brought to outdoor space. South American cities have taken road safety seriously with a variety of interventions from building sidewalks in São Paulo, Brazil to blocking vehicular traffic on a main thoroughfare, thus sparking a cultural renewal in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Cali, Colombia, traffic fatalities have decreased by 12% from previous years thanks in large part to the construction of crosswalks and improved pedestrian design. In Cuenca, Ecuador, the historic center of the city is being transformed into a superblock with specific pedestrian access and prioritized public transportation access; while elsewhere in the city roadways are being transformed into Complete Streets. In Coimbatore, India; and Lisbon, Portugal; pedestrians and cyclists are given prioritized access with revived street design, shifting away from a car-orientation to a pedestrian focus. In Monterrey, Mexico, the improvement of public space for walking has coincided with improved safety measures. In Guangzhou, China the focus on improving transit stations with TOD principles has continued with a new 500 kilometer greenway and a large cut in the parking spaces available at the train stations. With the focus on prioritizing pedestrian access and improving road safety, many cities are building resiliency that will assist in the recovery from the pandemic.
Cycling and Bike share
Cycling has been a major focus for many cities, from implementing bike share programs, to increasing infrastructure like bike lanes and bike parking. COVID-19 has shifted behaviors and increased cycling worldwide. Cities like Bogotá, Colombia; and Jakarta, Indonesia have built temporary cycle paths to support their many new cyclists, many hope that these temporary interventions will become permanent. In Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Frankfurt, Germany; Guatemala City, Guatemala; investments are being made in permanent cycling infrastructure like cycle lane and bicycle parking. These investments will support these cities’ resiliency. In Kampala, Uganda; and Windhoek, Namibia; bike share systems are seen as an important tool to support social advancement particularly for impoverished groups. In Elche, Spain, cycling has been directly linked to climate change activism and has been encouraged particularly among young people. While in Songpa-gu, South Korea, the bike share system is fully electric. Many cities see the improvements in cycling and pedestrian spaces as going hand-in-hand, like in Lviv City, Ukraine which has enacted complete street design that improves cycle lanes so much that public transit users have stopped driving to bus stations.
Jakarta, Indonesia famously reached 1 million daily riders on its BRT, Transjakarta before the COVID-19 lockdowns. In Bhubaneswar, and Hubballi Dharwad, India ridership on public buses has increased as travel times have decreased due to improvements in route planning and fleet upgrades. In Auckland, New Zealand, the city’s transit system was kept running throughout the COVID-19 crisis, providing transport for the many essential workers who made New Zealand such a pandemic success story. In the United States both Charlotte, North Carolina; and Eugene (Lane Country), Oregon; municipal governments have passed climate related policies focused on decreasing emissions from public transportation, specifically shifting to electric buses. Braga, Portugal; Guangzhou, China; have also switched to electric buses. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the municipal and national governments have made pledges to combat climate change through sustainable transportation, among other things. The government has adopted a ten-year non-motorized transport strategy which has included increased public transport as well.
Whether adopting a national transportation policy or expanding sidewalks, cities are taking approaches big and small to improve the sustainability of transportation and thus the quality of life among their citizens.
About the Sustainable Transport Award
The Sustainable Transport Award is an annual award chosen by the STA Committee given to any city that has implemented innovative sustainable transportation projects in the preceding year. The STA has been given every year since 2005 to cities worldwide that have implemented innovative, important, and forward thinking initiatives in transportation. Past winners have included cities of all sizes – from large metropolises to medium-sized cities from North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia. MOBILIZE 2021 will highlight the STA winning city. The winning city will be honored in January 2021.
See the full list of the nominated cities here.
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