With nearly seventy demonstration projects, CIVITAS MIMOSA sought to promote the headline notion of the project, that is: “Learn how to move better, in order to live in better cities”. The five cities joining the project – Bologna, Funchal, Gdansk, Tallinn and Utrecht – endeavored to shape a new mentality, whereby conscientious mobility behaviors where to be felt as the result of participatory processes in which local authorities, transport operators, private companies and citizens alike are involved simultaneously. The other cornerstone of the project was the adoption of advanced communications and marketing techniques to ensure that the policies and measures deployed were to be understandable and effective. CIVITAS MIMOSA was the ideal instrument to better understand the frameworks, processes and technicalities necessary to successfully introduce and test innovative, courageous and integrated strategies for a clean, energy-efficient and sustainable urban transport. The possibility to do so with a group of peers made it all the more stimulating and meaningful, as it supplied local authorities with policies that were both validated by widespread experimentation and legitimized by the concurrent adoption in other cities.
The cities of CIVITAS MIMOSA were the expression of rather diverse physical, climatic and cultural conditions, as they brought together on the map a geography stretching from the Baltic north-east to the far Atlantic south-west. Despite this apparent separation, Bologna, Funchal, Gdansk, Tallinn and Utrecht were bounded together by the same fundamental appreciation of the problems to be tackled, the instruments to be used, and the objectives to be attained. In short they shared a vision, and the path leading to it. With the exception of Funchal, which is smaller in size and with the peculiarities of an island, the project cities were remarkably homogeneous; in particular they had the same needs and objectives:
Improve the quality of life and stimulate healthier lifestyles
Improve the environmental conditions
Increase security and safety
Increase energy efficiency
Attain all of this without compromising, and possibly improving, the mobility of citizens.
For more information, please visit the project website. *Funded by the European Commission
The results of CIVITAS MIMOSA were numerous and noteworthy: Bologna was already well on its way to creating a pedestrian friendly city center, with increasing numbers choosing to take the bus and cycle. Funchal, through its creative public events, has encouraged citizens to use public transport, as well as cleaner vehicles. On a commercial level, many hotels and tourists visiting Funchal now opt to take the eco-friendly public buses as opposed to hospitality buses and taxis. Gdansk succeeded in engaging citizens in its bike weekends, as well as encouraging more use of the tram, while children and parents are once again walking to school. Utrecht tackled freight — one of the major causes of congestion and pollution — by implementing the highly effective Beerboat and Cargohopper. Tallinn made significant progress in improving the quality and image of its public transport with an invigorated cycling culture now part of the city’s landscape.
The project’s success was only made possible by public participation and partnerships with private parties. This proved crucial to all, despite the different approaches. Tallinn aimed for in-depth understanding of the behavior and motivations of its citizens. Utrecht, with a strong track record in participation, took it to the next level, whilst Gdansk had to find a way forward in a post-socialist society still adapting to the idea of conducting discussions with stakeholders. However, the city’s persistence in the use of social media, as well as frequent liaison with civil society organizations, won the day. Lastly, Bologna and Funchal, with political backing and openness towards change, forged ahead with many successes of their own.
Cities learned that it is crucial to involve citizens in the decision making process as well as create mechanisms to facilitate their participation. One of the most important results in CIVITAS MIMOSA was the concept that any policy, simple or complex, cannot achieve the desired outcome if the target groups are not sensibly consulted and informed. The dialogue between target users and authorities, the final decision-maker, enabled better and faster resolutions and raised acceptance on all levels.
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