Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania. And historically it has been its financial and cultural capital. Councillor of mobility, Rimantas Mikaitis, is preparing an ambitious plan to multiply by five the number of people using the bicycle to move around the city (currently three thousand people). In order to achieve this goal he plans to create new cycle lanes and park places. Besides, he wants to set up a new bicycle renting system.
Nonetheless, experience shows us that it is not enough with good intentions and projects elaborated by experts for this kind of incentives to be successful. A change in transportation habits requires a deep cultural transformation. And therefore Rimantas decided to open a participatory process and collect citizen proposals for his project. But, is there anybody who did something similar in the past?
In Kuorum we work with governments and public administrations in six countries. And that gives us the ability to see the full picture, which brings value to all of our customers. But mainly to those in local governments, who normally have less chances to live overseas experiences. In this case, the participatory processes that our team experienced in Manchester during the electoral rally of the current major Andy Burnham, served as inspiration for the project we designed in Kaunas.
In the Manchester processes, the need for offline sector events was pointed out from the beginning. Participation wasn’t conceived as a mere exchange of online proposals, but as a series of workshops where people could debate face to face and confront opposing visions. Those events were open to everybody willing to participate, but those interested in specific verticals were the most active ones. Bike lovers in Manchester had the chance to explain which were the main negative incentives to use the bicycle in Manchester at that time. Then they proposed ways to overcome those obstacles. And that is how Manchester adopted one of the most innovative bicycle renting systems in the world, one in which people can pick up and leave bikes wherever they like instead of having to look for fix park places.
The participatory process in Kaunas is still open. So it is too soon to know what the result will be. But citizens have already made the project theirs. And that is already a first success for Rimantas.