The Strategic Mobility Plan of Brăila, drafted in October 2014-Aprilie 2015, sets the development framework for urban mobility at the municipal level as well as the operational framework. MKBT (MakeBetter) was involved in the elaboration of both phases of the project, providing expertise in mobility and urban development, qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as programming and consultation.
Brăila, a city with around 200.000 inhabitants in the Eastern part of Romania, located on the Danube – is showcasing some of the serious challenges affecting Romanian cities: population loss, spatial and functional intra-urban disparities, industrial decline, an increase in car ownership rate etc.; in some aspect though, Brăila retains some important features that are unique: a planned geometric radio-concentric pattern, its display on the Danube river, just to name a few. The main conclusions drawn from the assessment phase are showing a discrepancy on several levels: the city’s structure is not well articulated to mobility patterns; regional traffic is transiting Brăila with little benefit for the city; some of the city’s facilities are inaccessible; some of the street network is over-capacitated for car traffic and under-capacitated or poorly adapted to basic pedestrian traffic; transportation modes are poorly connected etc.
While some of the above mentioned problems may seem redundant with other mobility issues that cities generally face, MakeBetter is interested in articulating solutions not just to the immediate mobility needs, but rather to the larger spectrum of key factors pertaining to Brăila’s quality of life. As such, particular attention was paid not only to movement patterns and reasons for trips, but also to the qualitative framework the city is providing for these trips.
In partial opposition to the recent investments supported by Brăila municipality which favored car traffic, MKBT (MakeBetter) is supporting the idea that a sustainable mobility strategy cannot be conceived regardless of recognizing the role of movement in creating meaningful places. This can be achieved by raising the quality of existing public transport and by reconciling the means of transportation, as well as by imagining infrastructure intimately associated with urbanity.
Scenario planning was one of the main features of our approach, in which exposing multiple scenarios served as a decision-aid tool in order to better articulate needs and possibilities.