Recently STBY was asked to support conversations between policymakers of the city of Amsterdam and residents of a specific neighborhood about the renewal of their local traffic policy. We used the Street Lab method to streamline the conversation around the general principles of the policy and the specific situations it needs to cater to.
Common wish to keep the area car free
The neighborhood, Nellestein, is a special gem in the southern outskirts of Amsterdam. From the time it was built in the seventies it has been a car free area. The residents do not park in front of their houses, but in garages at the edge of the neighborhood. Only for special occasions are they allowed to enter the area with a car. Since the city of Amsterdam has recently developed a new, city-wide policy for traffic flows in local areas it became clear this neighborhood needed extra attention. This was the start of a process of co-creating a solution that fits both the needs of the residents and fits within the boundaries of the overall regulations.
Streetlabs with residents
STBY held a series of Street Labs in which a large number of residents of Nellestein could share their experiences, needs, problems and ideas about conditional traffic in their neighborhood. Many of Nellestein’s residents have lived in the neighborhood for decades, giving them a wealth of experience to tap into. Many are also now elderly, which creates new needs that they didn’t have when they moved in years ago. In addition, younger residents are moving in, with their own mobility needs and patterns. In this, Nellestein reflects broader trends impacting cities as they deal with changing demographics and attempt to reduce automobile traffic and make room for more socially and environmentally friendly alternatives. That’s why the results of the Street Labs in Nellestein may be also relevant for a great number of neighborhoods and cities.
The research team from STBY moderated the discussions in the Street Labs, using journey maps to document the most common scenarios of car traffic in the neighborhood. STBY documented the residents’ descriptions of their needs and preferences in detail, in order to create a realistic basis for a traffic policy that would fit the specific situation of the neighborhood. Representatives from the city were also present, giving them an opportunity to learn from the residents, and also to answer residents’ questions directly when needed.
A reflection of future trends
The analysis of the results of the Street Labs enabled the creation of a set of scenarios which could be implemented in the short to medium term. In addition, scenarios were created for the longer term making use of new technologies that make it easier to digitally grant access and ensure it is not abused. These results have now been shared with the residents as the city moves forward with a proposal for this unique neighborhood.