Traffic calming and reallocation of public spaces - First meeting of the year by Magyar CIVINET

Magyar CIVINET organised a professional day on the topic of Traffic Calming and Reallocation of Public Spaces on 15 February 2024 in Budapest, with the support of Griffsoft IT company, hosted by the Municipality of Józsefváros, 8th District of Budapest, in cooperation with the H13 Integrated Community and Service Space of the District.

The event started with a welcome speech by Antal Gertheis, CEO of Mobilissimus and Secreterait of Magyar CIVINET, and the presentation of the Magyar CIVINET.

András Pikó, Mayor of Józsefváros, then opened the event. In his welcome speech he shared his pride that the event could be co-organised by Józsefváros. He believes that their work in housing, high quality community services, greening and fairer transport deserves attention. The debate on urban mobility in Józsefváros has begun, with the municipality taking the first important step with a new parking regime that has started to tackle overuse.

Dániel Rádai, Deputy Mayor of the 8th District of Budapest, gave a more detailed presentation on traffic calming and street livability projects in his lecture entitled "The Street is the New Square". The Municipality of Józsefváros has published its Mobility Charter, in which it advocates sustainability and "safety for vulnerable road users", the development of the bicycle network, the temporary implementation of improvements in case of lack of resources and the step-by-step rationalisation of public parking. Along these lines, he reported on a number of projects, including major investments that were successfully implemented with more greening than originally planned, community planning projects, and smaller pilot interventions. In addition to traffic calming and parking rationalisation - there have been significant changes in the number of residential parking permits - the district is focusing on the development of mobility alternatives: a new trolleybus link has been implemented in the district in cooperation with BKK, and all developments are exploring and, where possible, implementing the expansion of cycling infrastructure, and the storage of micromobility devices is being facilitated through mobility points.

Colleagues of BKK Budapest Transport Centre continued the series of presentations, Gabriella Borboláné Kovács presented the road safety strategy of the capital, while László Szőke presented the REALLOCATE Horizon Europe project. The road safety statistics of Budapest show a worsening trend in accidents, and the strategy aims to reverse this trend. The key elements of road safety were discussed, such as road users' knowledge and compliance with the rules, the condition of vehicles, the underlying institutional system and infrastructure. A fundamental condition for transport infrastructure is the development of self-explanatory roads and a forgiving environment. Since the vast majority of crashes occur at intersections, clear design at intersections is also critical. The greatest trade-offs are needed for arterial roads in Budapest, where, in addition to heavy vehicular traffic, public transport functions, active and micromobility needs are as much a part of the design as other public space functions. In addition to managing conflicts on main roads, the aim is to double the size of residential and recreational zones, restricted access areas, which will provide space for safe pedestrian and cycling traffic.

REALLOCATE project will implement two pilot projects in Budapest with similar objectives. One of them is in the host of the current event, District 8th, where they want to create a "healthy superblock" by crossing the concepts of London's "healthy streets" and Barcelona's "superblocks". The aim is to increase active mobility and implement the idea of a 15-minute city to improve air quality, reduce noise pollution and provide quality, safe and family-friendly public spaces for city dwellers. This will include additional mobility points, tree planting and interventions using tactical urbanism tools. The other pilot project will be implemented in the 4th district, where a number of traffic problems can be identified in a narrowly defined area at the junction of Megyeri út and Fóti út, where the redistribution of public spaces can provide an answer. These problems include highly differentiated daily traffic loads, irregular parking or regular and high rates of speeding, all of which are close to an elementary school. The project includes plans for data-prepared traffic calming and speed limitation, improvements to cycling infrastructure, redistribution of intersection lanes and the elimination of irregular parking, and the development of new city functions on the area reclaimed for people, in synergy with another EU project.

The last lecture before the break was given by Tibor Vincze from Szeged Pólus NKft., who presented the bridgehead, Oskola street and related interventions in downtown of Szeged. The forward-looking project started as a resolution of a decades-old traffic conflict and has become a complex urban rehabilitation project with tree planting and pavement widening. The former two-way cycle lane on the right side of the one-way street for motor vehicles has been replaced by two cycle lanes, one still on the right side in the direction of travel, and one on the opposite side running in the opposite direciton. This way the accident blackspots have eliminated at intersections. As an extension of the project, the downtown bridge junction, which is also accident-prone, was also addressed. Innovative engineering solutions, traffic modelling and data-driven decision making have been used to help resolve conflicts. The project has grown into a complex cycling network development package that extends to other areas of the city. The negotiation process is still hampered by stereotypes about cycling, but the Hungarian Cyclists' Club and the planning jury can bring the necessary professionalism to these projects, and Szeged has benefited from this so far. And intensive, clear and compelling communication to the public has helped to manage conflicts of interest.

After the break, Tamás Batinkov, Development Team Leader of Griffsoft Zrt. presented Urbanalytics - AI-based urban traffic monitoring and simulation application. The objectives of the solution, which were confirmed by interviews during the design process, were to support decision making and to ensure that the investment does not exceed the budget of an average municipality. The system is composed of two layers, a data collection and processing side, which includes a cloud-based data management infrastructure and IoT sensors using artificial intelligence, and a user interface that visualises the data using different visualisation solutions. The pilot cities so far are experimenting with the solution for different applications, for example, in Balatonföldvár they are measuring the number of visitors to tourist sites, while in Kistarcsa the aim is to monitor the proportion of transit traffic, including freight traffic. Future plans include modelling the impact of transport interventions.

With the last two speakers of the event, the event returned to its venue, 8th District.  On behalf of RÉV8 Józsefvárosi Rehabilitation and Urban Development Zrt., Zoltán Zikkert gave a presentation entitled ’Traffic, Speed, Streetscape’, in which he presented plans for the renewal of five streets in three projects. The overall aim of the public space renovation projects is to create a safe and healthy environment, which requires the elimination of transit traffic, by diversion or other means. If traffic must remain, the speed of traffic will be limited. A healthier environment would be enhanced by tree planting, but the underground constraints of utilities are a major problem. In some cases mains can be relocated but require more expenses and in other cases those can not be relocated at all. The planning process for all project sites takes into account the needs of the surrounding institutions, be it schools or homeless shelters, but also the needs of local businesses by creating loading spaces. Traffic calming tools used in some projects include raising the roadway to curb level or regular curbing, lane closures, and narrowing of intersections to make priority shifts clear and to encourage all road users, regardless of the means of transport to be aware of each other's presence. In addition to these infrastructure improvements, regulatory measures, 30 mph zones and the provision of contra-flow cycling are also planned to encourage active mobility in the neighbourhoods where the projects are located.

The dilemmas of public space useage that permeate urban planning processes were highlighted in a presentation by Péter Biczók. Our mobility choices determine the mode we choose, our mode choice determines where we go, and thus indirectly what investments are made in the city, so ultimately our mode choice determines the fabric of the city. Accordingly, in Józsefváros we have started the liberation of pavements and prioritise pedestrian safety. Whether it is by placing bollards, flowerbeds or painting, we can create a place where pedestrians feel safe. A professional consensus on controversial issues is needed to ensure that legislation can catch up with reality.

After the presentations, the participants, led by Deputy Mayor Dániel Rádai, had a site visit in Józsefváros, at several project sites mentioned in the presentations, such as Somogyi Béla Street, Kölcsey and Békési Streets, Bacsó Béla Street, Víg Street, József Street, Németh Street, Horváth Mihály Square and the Square of the Thirty-Twoers, where they could learn about the professional details of the projects and the experiences of the preparation and implementation processes.



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