EU and International: Eurocities - Working group 'Barrier-free City for All'

Eurocities - 2012

7th meeting of the working group Barrier-free City for All on 12/13 September 2012 in Lyon

By invitation of the Association of Local Authorities Grand Lyon, experts from 15 European cities and regions met in Lyon in September 2012.

Different approaches concerning the implementation of accessibility in urban areas were presented and discussed on the aspect "Planning with people - for people". The Local Government Association Grand Lyon - a new member of the Working Group - presented measures and future plans for public space and for public transport. Based on the master plans "Accessibility of the road space, public space and public transport" the participation of people with disabilities in planning and decision processes has been illustrated.

Representatives of the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) explained the "Universal Accessibility Master Plan". This master plan includes ten key projects to improve accessibility in areas like information and communication. One of the key objective of the master plan is to find appropriate solutions in dialogue with people with disabilities. The Committee "Universal Accessibility Committee" coordinates all activities and is directly associated with the management of TMB.

An expert from the Study Center on Infrastructure, Transport and Urban Planning (CERTU) from the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning, presented the benchmarking study on the progress of accessibility in eleven European cities, including London and Rotterdam. CERTU advises French cities and municipalities in the field of urban development, transport and infrastructure.

The Transport Company "Transport for London" presented the progress of accessibility in public transport, particularly in view of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, e.g. all buses are equipped with ramps, the "Black Cabs" - the traditional London taxis - can be used by wheelchair. The master plan "Accessible public transport" designates extensive measures to be implemented until 2031.

6th meeting of the working group Barrier-free City for All on 4/5 June 2012 in Munich

Barrier-free city tourism / Design for All

According to estimates of the European Commission, there are 130 million people in Europe for whom tourism and travelling are not yet a matter of course. People with disabilities have difficulties in Europe in finding their way around in unfamiliar regions, planning their journeys, deciding on the best transport mode and finding a suitable hotel or access to tourist attractions.

Thirty-six experts from twelve large European cities met in Munich on 4 and 5 June 2012 to exchange ideas on conditions and strategies for promoting barrier-free tourism. All over Europe, city tourism in particular has become a driving force for growth in the tourism sector in recent years. Together with a representative from the European Commission, tourism marketing experts and members of Munich's Council for People with Disabilities, the working group discussed how accessibility can be turned into a signature feature of city tourism. Several exemplary projects were presented, e.g. on improving accessibility at the Munich Oktoberfest and activities to promote tourism for all in Berlin and Barcelona. The cities of Vienna and Munich showed measures for making pedestrian traffic barrier-free. The programme was rounded off by a visit to the Allianz Arena.

The experts convened for the 6th meeting of the "Barrier-free City for All" working group of the Eurocities network of major European cities. The working group's objective is to increase its efforts to develop joint strategies and create local, regional, national and European networks. The participants agreed that further enhancing barrier-free city tourism in the spirit of "design for all" will benefit not only all travellers, but also the entire population and the economy.

5th meeting of the working group Barrier-free City for All on 13/14 February 2012 in Paris

On 13/14 February 2012 the fifth meeting of the working group "Barrier-free City for All" took place in Paris. The meeting was opened by Ms. Véronique Dubarry, Deputy Mayor of Paris responsible for the needs of people with disabilities. Mrs Dubarry emphasized the importance of an international exchange on the urban level and of comparing the progress and problems of other cities. For Paris as a global metropolis with a magnitude of historical buildings and its world heritage, accessiblity is a very challenging and difficult task compared to other metropolises. One key for the success is the participation and information of the residents about the planned action.

Measures to implement the Master Plan Accessibility in Public Space of the City of Paris have been presented and discussed. Since 2003 all construction measures in the public space of the City of Paris are to be conducted in accordance with the Master Plan for accessibility.

Respresentatives of the Transport Association Ile-de-France presented the Regional Plan of Public Transport Accessibility. These contributions were supplemented by the presentation of planning instruments from Helsinki and Cologne.

Under the direction of the City of Helsinki extensive guidelines and evaluation criteria for the accessibility of buildings, streets and public places were developed in cooperation with six Finnish cities. These also provide the basis for the Master Plan for a barrier-free City of Helsinki.

The city of Cologne has presented its citywide approach for establishing a design manual for the city center. The focus has been on the question how the requirements for accessibility can become mainstream in planning processes.

A main item on the agenda was the discussion of the planned European Disability Act. The European Commission, Directorate-General Justice plans to submit a draft of a EU-legislation to provide accessibility in 2012. In agreement with EUROCITIES, a position paper was discussed at the 5th Working meeting in Paris and adopted as a recommendation for further consultation with the Executive Committee of EUROCITIES.