Home » City of Riga successfully held 3 Mobility Lab sessions
Despite COVID-19, the City of Riga successfully held all planned Mobility Lab events, adapting them to the requirements of social distancing. Content, approach and working methods of the Mobility Lab events were adjusted to the specifics of online work. As the whole Mobility Lab concept has been developed and implemented in close collaboration with local universities where dedicated technological solutions for online learning and online group work were already in place before the COVID-19 outbreak, no particular impact on the course and the outcomes of the Mobility Lab co-creation events was witnessed.
The Mobility Lab is an interdisciplinary collaboration platform for co-design and testing of innovative planning and technological solutions in urban mobility and public transport aimed to improve the green mobility offer for seniors, ensuring that seniors are not “left behind” with technological progress. Participants of the Mobility Labs – experts, civil servants, students and seniors have been working together in several working sessions since autumn 2019 to develop sustainable and green urban mobility solutions adapted to the seniors’ target group. Each subsequent Mobility Lab session is a sequel to the previous one.
The first Mobility Lab session aimed to promote Green Silver Age Mobility in Riga was organized on the 22nd of November 2019 as a face-to-face event. Participants of the first Mobility Lab session co-designed initial solutions how to adapt urban space to the seniors’ needs and make it more comfortable for the user group. Also, the first solutions how to better facilitate different green mobility modes from the user groups’ perspective, were identified.
With the aim to take forward the findings of the first Mobility Lab as well as to further promote the development of a sustainable and climate-friendly urban transport system and mobility in the City of Riga, on the 15th of May 2020 the second Mobility Lab event was held. An online seminar presenting to wider audience proposals for adapting mobility infrastructure and the surrounding urban public space to the specific needs of seniors’ user group, developed by students of the Riga Technical University’s Faculty of Architecture as part of their urban design studies course. From February until April 2020 students observed, assessed and analyzed the mobility of seniors in urban environment, in particular, the mobility of such vulnerable groups as the seniors with visual and/or mobility impairments and other special needs.
The students identified eight mobility hot-spots within the administrative territory of the City of Riga and developed proposals for improvement of urban public space around these mobility hot-spots. The proposals focus on solutions how to make them accessible, safe and convenient for seniors, taking into consideration their specific needs. During the seminar, students presented their proposals to urban planning and mobility planning experts, municipal specialists and seniors. The audience of the seminar evaluated these proposals from different perspectives and discussions were held assessing the relevance and suitability of developed proposals to the needs of seniors’ user group.
Being aware of the fact that the silver age residents, in a longer run than other society groups, are expected to face significant social distancing restrictions and limited access to goods and services including the transportation, on the 29th of May 2020, the City of Riga organized the third Mobility Lab event “Silver age mobility: challenges during and after the COVID-19 emergency”. This event was organized in collaboration with students and teaching staff of the University of Latvia Master’s study programme in Spatial Development Planning, urban planning and social anthropology experts, municipal specialists and seniors. The third Mobility Lab event was held as an online co-creation workshop that looked at practical solutions to improve senior mobility and reduce their social exclusion.
Given that the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly strengthened the importance of the social dimension in the daily lives of seniors, respecting the new situation, senior mobility in this co-creation workshop was viewed through three main pillars:
Three different prototypes of seniors were considered, for whom the constraints of the COVID-19 outbreak caused additional urban mobility constrains. The following challenges of senior mobility identified by students were considered in the Mobility Lab’s co-creation workshop:
Silver agers from the Riga Active Seniors Alliance “RASA” participated in the online co-creation workshop, providing their assessment of the problem solutions developed by three groups of students as well as recommendations for improving the situation. Seniors expressed specific needs that would need to met so that seniors could obtain information in an understandable, easy-to-comprehend way, as well as be able to travel on a daily basis, buy everyday neessities and receive public services on their own without significant burdens. The groups of students, using the “Storyboard” method, presented proposals for the improvement of public space and information flow, which could be used to improve seniors mobility during the COVID-19 outbreak as well as in the future regardless of the COVID-19 situation.
After each of these Mobility Lab sessions, seniors expressed their sincere gratitude for being invited to these events, for being heard and actively involved.
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