1.71 - The Role of Urban Design in Breaking Car-Oriented Mindsets

Project Description

The concept of sustainability in mobility has gained a new momentum when faced with a new pandemic challenge that required cities to adapt to a new reality of confinement and limited mobility. Issues such as traffic congestion, air and noise pollution and resulting climate change and health problems that were once pushing for more sustainable means of transportation to be prevalent in cities, may now suffer a setback when social distancing is a new norm for personal safety. If most cities were considered car-oriented in their design, as well as in their population’s mindset, before the pandemic, how can we prevent the aggravation of this vicious cycle of car use and car-oriented planning?

This project aims to contribute to the discussion of this problem by assessing the impact of different urban designs on the mobility mindsets of the population, moderated by place attachment and influenced by a new perception of the environment and associated risk due to Covid-19, and how these mobility mindsets in turn affect dialogue and collective problem solving when dealing with the allocation of public space towards different modes of transportation.

Through an online survey open for the Portuguese population, individual and family interviews and mindset segregated workshops, it was possible to identify the main urban design characteristics associated with each of the four mindsets, as well as their tolerance of other mobility styles and policies, further discovering the psychosocial repercussions on mobility of short and long-term public space interventions on a neighbourhood’s residents.

The resulting insight of how the environment affects the way we think, move within our cities and support sustainable modes of transportation can help tailor municipalities’ mobility strategies not only while facing emergent challenges like a pandemic, but also long-term problems such as climate change, both being threats to the health and sustainability of the future.

 Research Team
  • Ana Cláudia Proença
  • Cecília Silva (Supervisor)
  • José Palma-Oliveira (Co-supervisor)
Financial Suport
  • FCT: SFRH/BD/137462/2018
Stage of Progress
  • Started in 2018