Vouliwatch is a non-partisan parliamentary monitoring/transparency promoting organisation set up in Athens 2014. Main goal is to bridge the gap between citizens and their political representatives.
Ioannina is not at all a bike-friendly city. But, amidst CoVid-19 lockdown, citizens re-claimed public space and transformed the city roads to de facto bike lanes. Now we realize that we have to act as citizens in order to make this occasional transformation a strategic one. Our objective is twofold: 1. To tackle the issue by 2. Developing a participatory design culture, working together, gathering data and knowledge, proposing an action plan, and establishing an observatory for the issue.
Ioannina (Epirus, NW Greece) the capital and largest city of Epirus (population ca. 110,000)
“It rains a lot in Ioannina and all roads are uphill!” That is the excuse we have used many years for not making our city bike-friendly and led to an impressive negative record of 6,8 km of bike paths. But even more impressive is that while European cities increasingly integrate participatory design in their decision-making processes, in Ioannina citizen participation is almost non-existent. There is a lack of citizens groups and associations aiming at enhancing participation in city decision-making. In essence, citizens do not know how to engage in participatory design processes. By tackling the bike-friendly city issue through participatory design we will enable citizens to develop an action plan in the context of sustainable mobility and claim their place in decision making processes.
The idea of participatory design is not new. Our idea is based on its basic principles, but it adds a different approach to the decision-making process and implementation. The small-scale community-based initiative to transform Ioannina to a bike-friendly city is looking for a solution to a daily problem, being a local social innovation. But it doesn't stop there. It strengthens democracy and enhances citizens as, through the participatory design workshops, it helps them develop skill sets and mindsets that are necessary for active citizenship. Moreover, through the observatory that monitors the actions of the shareholders on the issue, it exerts political pressure towards more participatory processes.
This idea is about each and every citizen of Ioannina. As with all participatory processes it will aim to engage all the stakeholders (residents, shop-owners, cyclists, university students, transportation professionals, shop-owners, local administrators, police, etc) and will blend-in the voices of public-space and mobility experts. This will happen through open workshops and an online networked community platform through which all outputs of the participatory processes will be made public and open to critical scrutiny. Even though the bike-friendly city idea has the potential to engage every citizen, it may prove very important, indicatively, for the over 20,000 university students of the city (the campus is about 5 km from the city center but there are no bike paths to get there!).
3 main phases:
1) team’s brainstorming to reach a common understanding on the project
2) participatory design process. 4 steps with the participation of citizens in all workshops: workshop 1: State of play & Analysis, workshop 2: Evaluation, workshop 3: Vision, workshop 4: Action plan
3) action plan uploaded on a digital participatory platform for public consultation and open to comments. The favorite comments will be added to the final text (after approval by the group of citizens who participated in the workshops) to be sent along with the citizens’ signatures to the competent service of the Municipality.
To monitor the implementation of the action plan, an observatory will be created that will produce reports published on the digital participatory platform.
In a year from now…
We will have contributed to the training of at least 100 fellow citizens in participatory design processes.
We will have involved at least 10 institutional stakeholders in the participatory design processes.
We will have created an action plan that will inevitably start the discussion at the institutional level to create a bike-friendly city.
We will have informed at least 500 fellow citizens about how we implemented the project.
We will have informed at least 1000 university students citizens about how we implemented the project.
We will have shown a way for the participation of citizens in the design of their city, which leads to results.
Everyone today recognizes that democracies around the world are increasingly being challenged. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit's annual report, in 2019 the quality of global democracy recorded the worst 15-year score while popular discontent was the worst since 1995. Our idea promotes public debate, strengthens the voice of citizens and encourages them to participate in decision-making processes, bridging social and political gaps through their direct participation and involvement. Participation and pluralism strengthen democracy, make it more resilient and create sufficient conditions for its development.
We care about our city.We love bike. We believe that participative processes are essential for the development of a human-centrist city which addresses the people's daily problems, which provides socio-economic opportunities to its citizens. We are not two. We are many. This is somehow how this project was born on a foggy day in Ioannina. The challenge is to transform city and urban social relations, which entails fostering participation around multiple objects, from the most personal to the most general. We are committed to make this project the spark that will encourage our co-citizens to discuss collective issues while at the same time considering individual lives, taking into account the data that are necessary to the city’s understanding and with the support of participatory tools.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
External experts (workshop coordinators, report authoring coordinators, observatory consultants, external evaluators): 10.000 €
Networked community platform and website: 10.000€
Space rental, utilities, and office expenses: 9.000€
Promotion materials and communication: 8.000€
Equipment and supplies: 8 000€
Travel and accommodation: 5.000€
We would like to receive information on NON-sustainable participatory planning initiatives that have been conducted in European cities, in order to avoid making the same mistakes and to limit the chances of failure of our project.