Ostrava, 6th – 7th December 2017
The City Changers Conference was held in Ostrava on 6th – 7th December 2017 and focused on the urban transport and mobility issues. The aim of the conference was to prepare the background for the national Urban Mobility Partnership platform which should be established in 2018 to look for solutions at national level. The conference intended to address so-called CITY CHANGERS - people able and willing to change an approach to urban mobility as well as the reality in the Czech towns and cities. Has the aim been achieved? That can be judged from two different points of view. The first one: How do the participants respond to the questions what's the contribution of the conference and if its purpose was fulfilled. And the second one: Specific suggestions and incentives to changes and amends that should be realized in Czech cities to make them more pleasant places to live (see below).
1. Looking for the City Changers
It's necessary to change the mind-set of the decision makers - that's the clear conclusion of the conference. Finding and promoting good examples makes an avalanche effect and others will be inspired. That's why the conference presented The Ostrava Charter which is aimed to find people, organizations and projects that are focused on changing the city's design and atmosphere in the line with real users' needs. The full charter is available on www.citychangers.cz. We need to search for stakeholders with an innovative approach that would help turn a bad address into a good one. During the conference both the purpose of The Ostrava Charter, and directly some of the active entities or individuals were presented. It is possible to add your signature either electronically on www.citychangers.cz. However, each of the signatory should know what exactly his assistance will be. We are still looking for competent and willing CITY CHANGERS.
The signatures will be collected until the Urban Future Global Conference 2018 (www.urban-future.org), which is the largest European conference on sustainable urban development and will be held in Vienna at the turn of February and March. As the organizers believe, an interdisciplinary debate is what we need to turn the passive urban development into an active one. After finishing the collection of signatures, The Ostrava Charter will be submitted to interested ministries (possibly the Transport Ministry, the Environmental Ministry, and the Ministry for Regional Development).
2. Promoting an urban mobility platform, defining tasks and collecting incentives
The Czech national platform for Urban Mobility Partnership is planned to be established in 2018 to coordinate national issues and interests in the field of urban mobility. The participants expressed their support to the planned platform but they also expressed one important requirement, that the platform must address specific issues with specific solutions to change the Czech towns and cities into more pleasant places to live. There are three areas of interest:
Fortunately, we needn't stay in theory. All the partners were encouraged to propose their motions, which many of them really did even during the conference. This is a call for the City Changers as well to get involved actively in the process, in their typical areas.
As one of the model examples the implementation of the Czech National Cycling Development Strategy has been chosen. For the future platform, several proposals have been defined to improve the background for the development of urban mobility and cycling, and have been categorized into three above mentioned areas. They will be published successively, starting on December 18, 2018.
3. The second conference day feedback - a "Little Copenhagen" symbol
The conference highlighted a wide range of problems in the field of urban mobility planning. The main common topic was the issue of a street design, which means how we treat the public space and all the variables entering into it. As a symbol an Ostrava urban district has emerged called "Little Copenhagen". And what happened there? Local architects came up with the idea of humanizing the street space in one of the Ostrava urban districts. It was two years ago. Although the idea was welcomed and incorporated in the strategic urban development plan and some of the measures were successfully implemented, the original concept as a whole due to many barriers or prejudices was stopped, and it was not far from being cancelled. Only thanks to this conference, thanks to the Danish Ambassador and to the Mayor of Ostrava the idea was revived again.
As the participants have agreed, the aim is to help those projects in general, through their own marketing. Every town, every city has its own "Little Copenhagen", its own well designed but not successfully implemented project. Therefore the city representatives were invited to submit their plans which can be promoted by an information campaign during the public hearing. For example, the district of Otrokovice needs an assistance in improving a local through road, specifically it should be accessible for cyclists, make a connection with the district of Kvítkovice, and many others.
Prague, December 13, 2017