The island capital cities took the top honours at the 2020 Civitas Awards, which recognise cities and towns demonstrating excellence in the areas of sustainable transport policy-making and measures.
The island capital cities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Funchal in Madeira took the top honours at the 2020 Civitas Awards, which recognise cities and towns demonstrating excellence in the areas of sustainable transport policy-making and measures.
Both cities are involved in the Civitas Destinations project which aims to help cities create an integrated approach to address current and future mobility and tourism challenges by testing balanced strategies.
The winners were selected by a four-person jury made up of prominent local politicians and mobility experts.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria won the Civitas Resilience award for its range of initiatives which include increased space for pedestrians and cyclists and car-free access to key roads on weekends. Its Mobility Plan for the New Normal aims to scale up and replicate short-term solutions. The Gran Canaria capital was seen as setting itself apart from other cities by adapting its crisis response as the basis of a new mobility reality.
“In the tough times we face, there are few opportunities for joy. This is why this Civitas Award is so special,” said Jose Eduardo Ramirez, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria councillor for the mobility department. “We are proud that this European-level initiative has rewarded our efforts to improve people’s lives through sustainable mobility. For us, this is fundamental to everyone’s wellbeing.”
“Ad-hoc initiatives – such as pop-up cycle lanes, extra space around public transport stops, and swathes of new pedestrian zones – have been essential in helping people to move around and meet safely throughout the pandemic”
The Madeira capital of Funchal won the Civitas Legacy award following its decision to address traffic head-on by imposing multiple traffic access restrictions and closing city centre streets to vehicles. This change was driven by involvement in the Civitas Initiative, which has also helped Funchal become a testbed for innovative solutions, such as automatic traffic counters.
Bruno Martins, city councillor for urban mobility, said: “It is an important acknowledgement of all the work we have done to make Funchal a more liveable, inclusive and sustainable city. This will motivate us to go even further in pursuing more integrated and state-of-the-art solutions.”
Porto in Portugal and the Italian capital of Rome were named runners-up in the resilience category. By opening temporary pedestrian zones, replacing parking spaces with ‘parklets’ for various uses, introducing an e-scooter sharing programme, and closing streets at weekends, Porto was judged as keeping its residents safe, neighbourhoods alive, and businesses afloat.
Rome was recognised for its support of physical distancing, which included promotion of walking and cycling, enabling safe public transport, and developing a plan for 150km of temporary cycle routes. Of these, 20km are already in place. Many of the these measures drew on ones already in the city’s sustainability urban mobility plan (Sump).
Aachen in Germany and Larissa in Greece were declared runners-up in the legacy award category. Aachen’s pedelec-sharing system, sustainable business trip policy, ongoing Sump process, and the electrification of the city’s bus fleet have their roots in Civitas project participation.
Larissa is a founding member of the Civitas local network for Cyprus and Greece and an extensive pedestrianisation scheme and new low-density city centre streets are among a wide range of mobility solutions that have been put in place.
“As our mobility systems – and all of us in our daily lives – try to adjust to the new reality, we need to avoid a return to car-dependency and all that implies in terms of air quality, congestion, road safety and CO2 emissions”
In a session at the European Commission’s first Urban Mobility Days conference, Matthew Baldwin, deputy director-general, DG Move, presented awards in a virtual ceremony. “It’s incredible to see that these cities have shown such resilience, resourcefulness and adaptability in what was already a constantly evolving mobility landscape – even before the Covid-19 crisis,” he said. “They have understood that exceptional times require bold action.”
He added: “Ad-hoc initiatives – such as pop-up cycle lanes, extra space around public transport stops, and swathes of new pedestrian zones – have been essential in helping people to move around and meet safely throughout the pandemic.
“Here’s hoping that many of them become permanent features. But many cities are also facing a threat to the provision and financing of public transport, which is a major challenge.”
Baldwin emphasised that “the Commission is ready to step up" its partnership with cities and regions through its urban mobility programmes: "As our mobility systems – and all of us in our daily lives – try to adjust to the new reality, we need to avoid a return to car-dependency and all that implies in terms of air quality, congestion, road safety and CO2 emissions.”
He continued: “Let’s keep our eyes on the prize as the European Green Deal takes shape: we need our urban mobility to be inclusive, affordable, green and safe. We need partners and programmes like Civitas more than ever before to help make sure this happens.”
Civitas, which stands for ‘vitality’ and ‘sustainability’, is a network of cities dedicated to cleaner, better transport in Europe and beyond and supports a number of living lab projects. It is supported by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 finding programme.
See videos from all Civitas Award winners and finalists
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