Time to change how people move around Hoogstraten, a city located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. Let’s give citizens a voice to tell the city how their ideal city would look like and develop a new, bottom-up, mobility plan. That’s why the city of Hoogstraten kickstarted a participation trajectory with their citizens in the summer of 2020. Together with the actual experts – the citizens – and the expertise of Vectris and Mobiel 21, the city wanted to lay the foundations for a better, more liveable and above all safer traffic situation, fostering a modal shift to more active mobility and moving away from the use of the car. The entire participation process was divided into several participation phases, and renamed the ‘Mobile in Hoogstraten’ campaign.
And then COVID-19 happened. What was supposed to be a physical trajectory, with lots of room for dialogue, listening to actual user stories and working together on a physical map (can you imagine), fell through. But hey, no time to waste. Together with Mobiel 21, the city got creative and looked at the possibilities to organize this digitally. The decision was quickly made to start a fully digital co-creation process in order to give the citizens of Hoogstraten a voice online.
It started in a first stage with a broad online survey to capture the opinion and mobility behaviour of as many Hoogstraten citizens as possible. Thanks to Maplix, citizens were able to indicate their routes to work, school and recreational destinations in detail, and identify bottlenecks on their way. One result is certain: mobility is a hot topic! More than 240 citizens in Hoogstraten participated in the online survey and 181 citizens helped the city of Hoogstraten map out traffic bottlenecks and mobility flows.
The results from the online survey gave input to the orientation note in which the existing mobility situation in Hoogstraten is outlined and objectives are defined.
In a second stage, the results from the online survey served as input for the mobility panels, for which 60 commited citizens of Hoogstraten signed up. Goal? To foster a live dialogue between the city and their citizens, to dig deeper into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ and come up with solutions and possible traffic measures to be implemented. That way, the city wanted clear answers on how they can improve the quality of life in different neighbourhoods.
Several groups of citizens, professionals and important stakeholders from each municipality of Hoogstraten got together online in separate panel groups, and considered various future mobility scenarios. To discuss and brainstorm about spatial challenges and solutions for Hoogstraten on a map during the online panel, Maplix was used. This was the first time Maplix was used for an online workshop with citizens, which proved to be very efficient and convenient. By the summer of 2021, the process should result in a new mobility plan for Hoogstraten. We can’t wait for the final result. Way to go, Hoogstraten!