This document proposes a series of issues and actions to be addressed and implemented in Naples in the short term for urban mobility in the post-emergency pandemic of the new Coronavirus – Covid-19.
The global pandemic emergency has prompted governments and city administrations to take drastic measures to change the habits of contemporary society. Several cities and territories have faced huge costs to support health measures. The low mobility of this period weighed heavily on the urban system as it suffered a drastic drop; the example of public transport which in Italy reached peaks of -89%, in Naples -92% of users (source: Moovit), and for a long time yet, the data will mark a “new normal”. There has been an adaptation to the use of social networks, smart-working, video conferences and social distance.
The streets, shared mobility, shared public spaces, but also buildings, courtyards: everything has been planned and developed over time for a condition of being together, of density, of sociability, of urban life, but this period is seriously testing the sense of being a city and making a city.
Naples and in general the cities must act immediately for a new mobility, this means planning in the short term more space for urban life, for active mobility.
Sustainable mobily and Phase 2 Covid-19 in Naples
Public transport has a reduced capacity for travellers with a number of vehicles that remains unchanged for Phase 2 of the Covid-19 pandemic. Respecting the rule of 1.5 meters, stopping the vehicle requires an extension of the times, which will increase from 2 to 4 times, according to a simulation of the pedestrian movement of the Dutch consultancy company Goudappel Coffeng. Furthermore, due to the rule of 1.5 meters inside buses, trams, subways and funiculars, there is a reduced capacity in terms of number of travellers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 12 people needed 7 m² in vehicles. The current situation requires 28 m² for the same number of people. The same goes for public space in small towns and cities: public space has become even scarcer than it was before. A pedestrian needed 2 m² and in phase 2 of the Covid-19 pandemic, 4 m² are needed.
From a safety point of view, to avoid contagion, someone might think that the car is the ideal means of transport to prevent contamination. After all, everyone has their own protective “box”, in which he move without coming into contact with others. A reduced public transport capacity could therefore lead to an increase in the use of the private car. However, cities are unable to handle such an increase in car traffic. This will lead to a reduction in accessibility, road safety and a deterioration in the quality of life. Furthermore, an increase in noise and emissions also generates negative health effects.
2.1 The importance of sustainable mobility
Freedom of movement is an essential necessity for the human being. We understood that very well in the recent lock-down period. This freedom offers us the space to grow, meet people, create and carry out our work. For phase 2 of Covid-19, it is important to treat space with care. Promoting sustainable mobility, walking and cycling are actions that play an important role and contribute to stimulating the resistance and health of the individual in a society. In addition, we are forced to take a critical look at the space needed within cities: a moving cyclist needs significantly less space than a moving car (9 m² versus 140 m²). In other words, 15 people can travel by bicycle in the same area of a car.
2.2. How can we implement all of this in the short term?
With short-term measures, sustainable mobility in cities can be stimulated. For example, temporary or permanent wider lanes can be designed for bicycles. However, following the 1.5-meter measurements in Covid-19 phase 2, it would be better to increase the width of the road up to 2.5 meters. This corresponds to 1 lane for the car. Another measure to improve the quality of life and road safety is to reduce the maximum speed to 30 km / h. Reducing speed inevitably leads to a space saving on the roads, as for roads at 30 km / h the safety distance between a bicycle and a car can be reduced up to 0.3 meters.
Another measure concerns a rigorous application of parking bans. This prevents blockages on cycle paths (example figure 4). Furthermore, small measures that can increase the comfort and safety of cyclists are linked to the connections of the cycle paths on both sides of an intersection (example figure 5) and more generally to the removal of the so-called architectural barriers that can obstruct the cyclists’ route or make it less safe. (Example figure 6).
Finally, it is important to consider that in a car park, for example along a road, 7 cyclists lose the space to park their bicycles (see Figure 7). It is important to create an extra parking capacity for bicycles to encourage the use of this sustainable means of transport for everyone.
2.3 Non solo piste ciclabili
Cycling and pedestrian paths must be direct, safe, comfortable and attractive. To develop a city for cycling, all these factors must be considered, so it is important to think of every place in the city, every neighbourhood, street, square or park space. In this period, cities had the opportunity to understand the value of public space, of urban space. Every street, every space in the city has had a value for citizens, for residents and non-residents alike, many have rediscovered the urban space of their residential area which is approximately within a radius of 500 m from their home.
In the Netherlands, with woonerf, residential areas play a very important role in the development of cycling and in general for active and sustainable mobility.
In this phase, it will be important to develop a continuous and comfortable network for “active mobility” within the city. All neighbourhoods and every residential area can be incorporated into an urban project of liveable and accessible “micro-spaces”. With very few measures, at very low cost it will be possible to develop proximity neighbourhood mobility, which is giving value to proximity commercial activities. In recent years, Naples has focused heavily on new pedestrian and new LTZ areas, often with large projects in areas of urban centrality. In this moment, it is very important with a new communication model and a new plan to be able to identify many micro spaces within the city and give space to pedestrians, children and bicycles. There are several examples throughout Europe of cities that have committed themselves in this direction with minimal expenditure.
From the map (figure 8) it is possible to see how to identify the areas of greater urban density where it is necessary to propose small pedestrian interventions, areas 30 and traffic calming. Interventions can be temporary and low-cost, there is no need for large urban transformation projects and there is no need for huge financial resources.
Recently, the European Commission has estimated that the total external costs of transport amount to the equivalent of around 1,000 billion euros per year, which corresponds to almost 7% of the Eurozone’s GDP. For a strategic mobility plan, it is important to think that the entire urban system must face a financial, economic and social crisis that derives from the current emergency. Urban congestion and inefficiencies in the mobility system can generate a further slowdown in the economic and social system. Naples is 20th in the European ranking after Milan and Rome of the most congested cities and in the central urban area the approximate average speed is 11 km / h (source: Inrix). This figure seriously affects the economic system with external costs that are often not considered and generated by congestion and inefficiencies.
In this phase, there is an opportunity to bring out a new need for neighbourhood mobility. Proximity travel can be encouraged, starting from the centrality of the last sustainable mile. It is very important to develop a communicative and participatory process to make the city aware of the use of the bicycle. Finally, each neighborhood, each block needs new livable urban space to meet the needs of social distancing, to encourage active mobility and to start a turning point for active mobility in Naples.
Danny Van Beusekom