Rethymno, for all the measures that have been taken for the safety of the citizens and visitors on its charming streets, has been chosen for the 2021 EU Urban Road Safety award.
The Municipality of Rethymno is always looking at ways to encourage public transportation and manage the efficiency of parking to prepare for the high-traffic tourist season.
Mr. Giorgis Marinakis, mayor of Rethymnon, stated “What we are doing now is no longer just a vision, it is the reality of the European Union foresight. Many large cities abroad have completely abolished private parking. Cities are taking a different approach by increasing and encouraging behavioral change for road safety, changing safety messages to both locals and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who use the roads each year”.
The goal for Rethymnon is to be an exemplary smart city, based on open-mindedness towards innovative uses, technologies, and opportunities. We created a “smart” system to move traffic and pedestrians safely and to easily locate themselves. The cities belong to the citizens, to the pedestrians, to our children, to the parents with the pram, to the elderly, to the companions that enjoy sharing the sidewalks arm in arm. Rethymnon understands this.
The objective is to inform and engage Rethymno communities in the decision-making process. Communication is essential to gathering new ideas and opinions from locals, professionals, and visitors for enhancing public road safety and improving parking and traffic flow changes in the behavior of drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.
Compliance monitoring, the long-term solution is best addressed by encouraging behavioral change through an educational type campaign complemented with school activities for youth. Promote the message that all users have equal rights to access our roads in or out of the city. Structural infrastructure is trying to reduce transportation accessibility gaps by exploring basic mobility with zero-emission modes of transportation such as e-cars, e-bus, e-bikes, and infrastructure for charging as well as continue to support public transportation while creating safer driving conditions and reducing emissions.
The city will set up community outreach and training workshops about the new smart parking system and the repark App. During this pilot implementation, the city will evaluate the effects of the new system on the city’s traffic operations and the behavior of the traveling public by comparing before and after traffic patterns and travel times.
Traffic applications are installed on main city roads (for people with impaired eyesight) that allow the sight-challenged pedestrians to cross in complete safety. Bike lanes that have been created are to be extended to the broader region. Rethymno offers safe outdoor recreation opportunities for all, walkable/bikeable neighborhoods where our history and cultural diversity are on full display not only in the historic center.
There are also thermal motion-sensitive cameras that control the traffic throughout the city and in the historic center where parking is an issue. In addition, it helps the traffic department to manage the traffic flow along with increasing the safety of people.
The overall goal is to create a most enjoyable, stress-free, and safe pedestrian and driver experience for residents and visitors. The parking situation in downtown Rethymno has been a challenge. By incorporating the repark application, and encouraging a large percentage of the community members to download the App on their smartphones through social media, civic organizations, and public service announcements it will no longer be a struggle. This allows citizens to actively be involved in the connected vehicle space. The technology is readily available, but the community needs to “take it into their own hands to make a difference – a safer environment for all road users.” This project will contribute to the mission of the City to better engage communities in smart government efforts, through enhanced use of emerging technologies.