Working group meetings

20th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“ (WG-BCA) on 12th and 14th June 2019 in Ljubljana

Arbeitsgruppentreffen 2019, Menschen sitzen um einen Tisch auf dem viele Arbeitsblätter liegen und diskutieren
Image: SenUVK

A joint conference of the EUROCITIES working groups “Barrier-free City for All” and “Urban Aging” took place in Ljubljana from 12/06/2019 to 14/06/2019. The increased cooperation of the working groups serves to combine resources and create synergies. Accessibility is not just an important topic for individual sectors. Instead, it is important to cooperate in those areas where the WGs overlap and to develop and represent common positions.

The conference started with a greeting from the Vice Mayor of the host city Ljubljana. Dejan Crnek showed the participants that the city not only has an accessibility plan with different focal points (transport, housing, social protection). It was possible to visit practical examples such as the barrier-free city centre and the barrier-free city museum.

However, there was still room for improvement within the subsequent discussion, e.g. the private sector and interested associations could be better integrated into planning.

The European Commission applied for the Access City Award, which will be presented on 29/11/2019 in Brussels. As part of a follow-up to last year’s European Year of Cultural Heritage, outstanding efforts to create barrier-free access to culture will find be given a special place in the award ceremony.

It also covered the European Accessibility Act, which aims to make goods and services accessible to persons with disabilities. After coming into force in June 2019, member states will have three years to pass national laws. These must be valid after a further three years at the latest.

Eine Frau klebt Post-Its an eine Tafel
Image: SenUVK

Berlin presented its approaches to the topic of housing policy in general and barrier-free housing in particular. This is based on a combination of regulations or manuals and practice-oriented training. For example, a design competition took place among architecture students of the TU Berlin.

In the ensuing discussion, the participants brought in further suggestions: for example, a database could be set up to record the barrier-free housing stock. In addition, tax advantages for contractors, positive campaigns for better implementation of the rules and labelling were proposed. For this, one approach would be to make the target group (disabled and elderly) the same group that controls compliance with the criteria.

Another prominent topic was the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to capture accessible places and obstacles in everyday life. In addition to disabled and elderly people, this also benefits tourists with luggage or parents with prams.

Here, Dresden provided information about a database which offers user-generated content. A questionnaire is used to gather information and review it externally. In order to save on costs in the future, it is intended to network with other platforms.

Sozialhelden e.V. presented its “Wheelmap” project, which pursues this goal worldwide. Therefore, the association supports other projects in data integration. In addition, an attempt is being made to create or deepen the awareness of the private sector of the needs of the steadily growing target group.

Warsaw will host the next working group meeting from 30/09/2019 to 02/10/2019 and plans to focus on the accessibility of cultural institutions and the improvement of horizontal management structures within administration.

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20th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“


19th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“ (WG-BCA) on 10th and 11th December 2018 in Berlin

Berlin hosted the 19th meeting of the EUROCITIES working group “Barrier-free City for All” on 10th and 11th December 2018. Representatives from 16 cities from nine countries came together to discuss current developments and challenges within the field of accessibility.

First, the members presented the news from their cities.

Milan reported on the current mobility plan, which focuses on the needs of the severely disabled. The basis for this is current data collection on the state of infrastructure.

It also plans to set up a roundtable on topics and aspects within accessibility, involving relevant associations and groups.

From Moscow, it was announced that all colleges with architectural studies were obliged to include content on accessibility for everyone in their curricula.

In support of this, a competition was held to design a barrier-free urban environment that attracted over 1,000 students. A winner was recently announced. It is planned to repeat the competition every two years.
The Munich working group “Barrier-Free Planning and Construction” has recently focused on school construction and dismantling of barriers in public spaces. So far, around 80 projects have been implemented. Future projects should be as standardised as possible according to uniform specifications.

In addition, the second action plan for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which covers a wide range of fields of action, will be presented soon.

Barcelona gave insights into Spanish suffrage, which no longer excludes disabled people. In order to enable all people to have an equal say, they have exchanged views with those affected. Their suggestions were included in local implementation.

The “Accessibility Master Plan 2018-2026” for Barcelona will be prepared on the basis of up-to-date data collection. This has now been completed and the evaluation is currently ongoing. The first results have already been published for some sections. Studies are currently being conducted on the economic situation of disabled people and their salaries. Results are expected for 2019.

Ljubljana has also drawn up an action plan for 2019-2020. The focus is on the involvement of the private sector in the implementation of barrier-free planning and accessibility.

France is home to a project for the creation of uniform databases for geographic information systems and accessibility. The results should be applied as soon as possible at European level.

The city of Prague supports its neighbourhoods in providing accessibility for public buildings.

In addition, an overview of barrier-free parking was developed and made available online.

With its flyer on public awareness, Prague is following a similar path to Ghent, which is also focusing on greater social acceptance through increased public representation of its own successful projects.

Several presentations were given on culture and accessibility.

The “Museum4pt0” project is an association of German museums. They try a variety of ways to make art and culture accessible and tangible for everyone and share their experiences in the project.

At “capito Berlin”, for example, innovations are tested directly by disabled people for practical suitability and, if necessary, improvements are encouraged.

Förderband e.V. organises projects in Berlin to raise awareness among museums. When possible, the events are hosted for equal numbers of disabled and non-disabled people, so that an exchange of knowledge and experience can take place.

The Senate Department for Culture and Europe also promotes the participation of disabled people in cultural life, both as recipients and as artists.

In the interplay between the initiatives of museums and politics through to the setting of standards, major steps can be taken to break down barriers in the cultural landscape.

19th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“


18th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“ (WG-BCA) on 23th April 2018 in Prague

Representatives of 16 cities and 3 organisations took part at the 18th Meeting of the working group “Barrier-free City for All” on the 23th April 2018 in Prague in the framework of the Mobility-Forum’s meeting. The meeting brought together experts from European cities and various expert associa-tions around the topic of accessibility.

The meeting was opened by the latest news from the participating cities with a focus on the “Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in the field of accessibility” and by the respective election of Berlin and Toulouse as the chair and vice-chair of the working group for the years 2018 – 2019.

Experts from Ghent, Berlin, Prague, Dresden and the French project group “GIS and Accessibility” led by Cerema presented current uses of data collection and open data portals for locating barriers in public spaces and improving the accessibility of their city. The possibilities are enormous but re-quire a very close cooperation of different actors.

The online survey tool for the information portal Accessibility of the City of Dresden is designed as an open data portal and offers everyone the possibility to enter data on the accessibility of buildings in Dresden according to a defined query pattern. The correctness of the data is checked and corrected externally.

The company TOPGIS presented the extensive application possibilities of mobile data acquisition of public road space. Due to the high level of detail of the panoramic images, barriers can be precisely located in public spaces. Furthermore, it is possible to use this data for the planning of specific works.

Federico Batista Poitier introduced the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Envi-ronments (GAATES). GAATES received consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in 2008. GAATES was thus involved in the Habitat III process and in the development of the New Urban Agenda.

Besides, the current status of European regulations and standards on accessibility in built envi-ronment were main item on the agenda. The draft will be available in autumn 2018. The expertise of the “Barrier-free City for All” working group is to be contributed as part of the public consultation.

The last topic of the working group meeting were potential synergies with the EUROCITIES work-ing group on “Urban ageing” which concentrates on the exchange of best practices for active and healthy ageing in cities. The shared intersections between the working groups should be exploited for knowledge transfer. Universities should be encouraged to cooperate in the areas of health sci-ences, urban and regional planning and architecture.

18th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“


17th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“ (WG-BCA) on October 17th, 2017 in Toulouse

17th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“


EUROCITIES Mobility Forum Conference and 16th Meeting of the Working Group "Barrier-free City for All" in Lisbon on 16 and 17 March 2017

The key topic for discussion at the Mobility Forum Meeting of EUROCITIES was “A new mobility paradigm: build a city for all”. In future, mobility concepts for towns and cities will have to make an important contribution to reducing environmental impacts. This means that, while noise levels are reduced, the quality of public spaces will be improved. At the same time, mobility for all necessarily includes the idea of accessibility.

In an impressive keynote speech, the president of the public transport services in the city of Lisbon explained the challenges for barrier-free public transport and public spaces with the help of examples from his city. These topics were explored in greater depth in individual workshops, with a particular focus on the idea of shared mobility services – new trends in public transport and e-mobility.

Other cities can learn from Lisbon’s experiences, particularly with regard to expanding e-mobility. The city plans to achieve a mobility transition with a mix of hire systems for e-bikes, the hire of electric cars and the use of buses and taxis that run on electricity. To create incentives, the city has made it possible for privately used electric cars in Lisbon to be charged cost-free. Moreover, parking electric cars on public streets has been free of charge up to now. Information about individual hire stations and the availability of electric cars can be obtained via a special app. Over the past few years, considerable resources have been invested in developing a bike-hire system, and e-bikes can be hired at special charging stations. The energy provider EDP is the city of Lisbon’s partner in the development of e-mobility.

Following the Mobility Forum Conference, the 16th meeting of the EUROCITIES working group “Barrier-free City for All” was held on 17 March 2017, with Berlin acting as chair. At this meeting, the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection presented the strategic aspects of Berlin’s transport planning with reference to, for example, the re-design of Maaßenstraße into a predominantly pedestrian zone. Subsequently, a joint meeting with the EUROCITIES working group “Safe and active travel” was held for the first time. A representative of Madrid’s transport services gave a talk about the measures the city is adopting to improve safety for pedestrians on public roads. Moreover, a representative of the International Transport Forum at the OECD reported on the international project “Safer City Streets – the global traffic safety network for liveable cities”. The following cities are taking part in this project: Bogota, Barcelona, Lyon, London, Paris, New York, Chicago, Lisbon and Copenhagen. The aim of this project is to develop an international database for analysing risk factors. It is intended to use this database to develop concepts for improving traffic safety. All of this shows the importance of exchanging experience at an international level so that tried and tested concepts can be transferred to other cities.

16th Meeting of the working group „Barrier-free City for All“