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Reshaping the Urban Environment Through Mobility Projects and Practices: Lessons from the Case of Palermo

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Abstract

Transport and mobility are crucial factors in the process of adaptation of contemporary urban areas to the challenge of sustainable development. In this perspective, however, cities need to perform a more effective integration between a wide range of different policies and planning practices. Together with a more effective integration between transport policy and land-use planning, for instance, cities could take growing advantage by organisational factors, as well as the spreading of new technologies and the related processes of social innovation. Through the description of several project and planning initiatives taking place in Palermo, the fifth Italian city, this paper attempts to explore the potential sinergies between the “hard factors” of mobility—in this case given by the huge programme of infrastructure redevelopment under realisation in the city—with some other dimensions, such as urban regeneration processes, governance and community-led processes of innovation.

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... While the municipality was committed to starting the ITP implementation, local government launched the largest infrastructure scheme ever planned since the post-war reconstruction: the 'Integrated Plan for Mass Public Transport' (PMPT). This programme, approved in 2002 to reshape the urban rail network, can be seen a response to the city's modernization process claimed by the new center-right coalition and, on the other hand, an attempt to provide citizens with an alternative to the car-dependent development pattern characterizing the city's modern history (Vinci and Di Dio 2016). ...
... According to some works (i.e Azzolina 2009), a clear element of continuity in policymaking since the mid of the nineties can be found in the focus on physical regeneration and the support for a culture-led development process. In other works (i.e Vinci and Di Dio 2016), it is argued that another common thread across the years (and the political coalitions) can be found in the attention towards sustainable mobility, despite the fact that the creation of massive transport infrastructures has been gradually added to by smaller and less costly interventions, such as, for instance, car-free areas, pedestrianization projects, and the application of 'smart' solutions to the existing mobility systems. ...
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The article provides an interpretation of the role played by the EU regional policy in the process of urban change experienced in Palermo, the fifth Italian city by population and capital of one of the largest Europe’s less developed regions (Sicily). Through an analysis of various EU-funded planning initiatives implemented over the last two decades – from the Urban Community Initiative in the late nineties to the current Integrated Territorial Investments under the 2014–2020 urban agenda –, the work explores their effects from three main perspectives: urban regeneration, local governance, and planning innovation.
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... One of the scopes of the Traffic02 project was to shift the debate on changing cities by switching from the urban structure (the hardware) to the changes that can be induced by citizens through a change of their behavior and the urban communities' habits (the software). TrafficO2 was thought as an info mobility decision supporting system that tried to foster a modal split through gaming policies and tangible incentives for each individual citizen when making (more) sustainable mobility choice [19] with the help of smartphone applications. Local businesses jointed through an ICT platform (as sponsors) became the stations of a new kind of transport system in which only moving by foot, by bicycle, by local public transport and by car-pooling were rewarded. ...
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