It’s the 10 July, a sunny, hot day in Budapest and at the Pop Up Park preparation is ongoing for the Hackday. Our team has organised activities which will help to refine the collection and selection of ideas to solve some of the most pressing mobility challenges concerning the Műegyetem embankment and Batthyány Square. Although several participants have been invited per email and the gathering has been publicised on social media, the area is decorated with posters and other project visuals: there may be passers-by who are curious to check out what is going on and share their view.
At 4 p.m. the event starts and a brainstorming is launched, building on the results of the Presentation Day. For the embankment, the two concepts that have to be discussed and detailed are (1) the “University Duna Experience”, which aims to create 4 crossing points to facilitate pedestrians’ access to the lower quay of the Danube and ease the traffic on the upper embankment; (2) the “University Terrace”, foreseeing a redevelopment of the area where the main entrance to the university is located in order to connect it to the river. Concerning Batthyány Square, one proposal – “The space is ours” – concerns the reorganisation of traffic around the Bem embankment through restricted circulation or traffic engineering interventions; the other concept is to allow direct access to the buildings in the square by levelling up the pavement of the roads as well as to increase the amount of elements and the infrastructure suggesting the existence of a community space.
About 50 people, including some tourists, participate in the co-creation of concepts and in voting their favourite ideas among the 20 micro-intervention proposals presented by the team. 10 interventions end up being selected after 2 hours of discussion, notably:
- establishment of info points to facilitate passengers’ transfer
- installation of elevators and ramps to increase the accessibility of the river banks – this measure is meant to meet the needs of people with reduced mobility and create a stronger connection between the city and the river
- creation of a Mobility Point to encourage the use of sustainable transportation means – for instance, bike parks, e-charging points, bike sharing docks and car sharing stations could be installed
- deployment of multifunctional areas offering various services – this should increase the community feeling and lead to a different use of spaces with lesser focus on motorised transport
- creation of zebra crossings that are not regulated by traffic lights between the road and the river bank – this could improve the access to the river and lead to slow down traffic, incentivising the use of other means of transportation
- traffic restriction on the lower embankment during weekends – although this would enhance the access to the river through sustainable transportation means, it may have undesirable effects on traffic on other arteries in the city
- covering the lower embankment – this is a busy street linking the Southern and Northern parts of the city. Covering it would enable citizens and tourists to have direct access to the lower embankment
- installation of floating docks on the river offering spaces and facilities for the community – these would be a valid alternative to a river promenade, something that is not possible to build due to lack of space
- widening the staircase towards the Danube – this would create a new, enjoyable community space. Security against flooding should be maintained.
- deployment of inclusive infrastructure and plants to improve spaces dedicated to the community – currently, there are no seating opportunities close to the river in front of the University of Technology and Economics and the green area is not used for recreational activities.
The latter two seem to be the most popular ideas. It is worth noting that these ideas will also be rediscussed with representatives of MEOSZ, the National Federation of Associations for Disabled People). Moreover, they will be presented and further developed during the 3rd Citizen Mobility Lab Roadshow. During this event, the focus will be mostly on the relation between the river and the city.
Each idea will be analysed in detail, considering: target audience, challenge that is being tackled, specific intervention, actions needed to implement it (e.g. collection of statistics on pedestrian traffic in a certain area, analysis of the illumination quality, etc.), resources, timeline and rationale, including advantages and disadvantages of the interventions. Only 5 of the concepts will be endorsed during an ad-hoc Quadruple Helix Stakeholder meeting (that is a meeting with citizens, public authorities, representatives of the industry and representative of academia) in autumn and only 3 will be actually prototyped, tested and assessed.