Evaluating the public acceptance of sustainable mobility interventions responding to Covid-19: The case of the Great Walk of Athens and the importance of citizen engagement

Charalampos Kyriakidis, Ioannis Chatziioannou, Filippos Iliadis, Alexandros Nikitas, Efthimios Bakogiannis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

COVID-19, the most wide-spread and disruptive pandemic in over a century, enforced emergency urban design responses meaning to recalibrate transport provision globally. This is the first work that systematically evaluates the ‘public acceptance’ as a proxy for ‘policy success’ and ‘potential for longer-term viability’ of the high-profile sustainable transport intervention package introduced in 2020 in the capital city of Greece known as the Great Walk of Athens (GWA). This is achieved through a twin statistical analysis of an e-survey that looked into the attitudes and urban mobility experiences of Athenians accessing the area of the trial daily. The research enabled a comparison between the pre- and post-implementation traffic situations and provided details about specific measures packaged in the GWA project. Our results suggest that walking and cycling uptake were only marginally improved. Traffic delays for car users were considerable. Car usage declined somewhat, with the exception of ride-sharing. Public transport ridership numbers suffered a lot because of concerns about sharing closed space with many others during a pandemic. Men and people on low income were more likely to agree with the ‘change’. Naturally this was the case for people identified as primarily cyclists and pedestrians. The most impactful package elements in terms of car lane sacrifices (i.e., the redevelopment of Panepistimiou Street) had the lowest acceptability rates. A key reason that underpinned people's hesitation to approve the GWA initiative was the lack of public consultation in the decision-making that shaped the project. Our study provides evidence-based generalisable lessons for similar metropolitan environments looking to implement more or evaluate for possibly making permanent ‘rushed’ anti-Covid street redevelopment measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103966
Number of pages15
JournalCities
Volume132
Early online date19 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Sep 2022

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