When first panels were dedicated to futuristic visions, the 2nd territorial Citizens Panels focus on diagnosis of regional issues/needs and citizens’ mobility behaviours. The first of them was organised in Thessaloniki on Saturday 11th of May 2019 by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 27 participants took part in the event.
It was held within an art gallery where an exhibition of the students of the School of Fine Arts of AUTh was taking place. Hence, it was considered as an inspiring, sophisticated place in order to enhance the creative way of thinking of the participants. In fact, by the end of the panel there was a great surprise for the citizens, as ten numbered and signed copies of an artist’s work were offered free of charge through lottery by the organizer of ART Thess International Contemporary Art Fair, Mr. Tsatsis. They were given as a “thank you” gift to engage the citizens more with the panel’s activities.
During the workshop, the atmosphere was cool and relaxed. Everyone was in a very good mood and felt even more comfortable in relation to the previous panel. All of the participants were very active in the discussions and they shared freely their ideas both in the working tables and in the plenary.
The most important values that were recognized to motivate and interest citizens were: freedom, respect to everyone’s needs in terms of equality and accessibility of people with disabilities, protection of the environment, security and safety connected to personal responsibility, health and education/culture.
The discussion on the values enabled the participants to investigate the deep meaning of them and identify the common and overlapping aspects that each value shared with the rest ones.
The content produced during AUTh’s CP2 in Thessaloniki was valuable and wide with many ideas being shared, discussed, analysed and recorded. The main issues/problems were further elaborated with the three creative problem-redefinition techniques. The main issues/problems considered as the most important in our region were:
- Appropriate education and awareness raising regarding every aspect of life and mobility, such as proper behaviour in general, change of mentality/mindset of road users, mobility habits, environmental protection, etc.
- Restructuring and advancing the public transport modes with emphasis to innovation and intelligent transport systems (ITS). Moreover, general re-organisation was discussed extensively regarding cleanliness, frequency, accessibility, reliability, new transport modes, multimodality, etc.
- Infrastructure of poor quality that is insufficient and discourages pedestrians and cyclists from using it. It does not meet people’s needs and consequently, it ends up operating against the desirable shift towards environment-friendly means of transport.
- Lack of proper organization, lack of holistic and integrated strategic planning for the transport system.
Emphasis, also, was given to the need of supporting academic research with the view to empower and establish a sustainable transport system in the city.
Finally, the questionnaire of the online PE4Trans survey was presented and CP2 participants were asked to become its “ambassadors” in the region in order to collect responses and to be able to diagnose the factors as well as the behaviours that affect mobility practices in Thessaloniki.
Text and pictures: Vasia Amprasi, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Transport Systems Research Group