State the project principles, the Transport Agency’s Urban Design Guidelines are a good starting point, and identify success factors for the project.
What is the problem you’re aiming to solve or the opportunity you wish to unlock? Why is that needed? How will you measure it? Clarity will help with enlisting partners, communicating, and ongoing monitoring.
The project needs to have a deadline to help push through barriers. A clear objective linked to a deadline provides urgency.
The project is temporary. Whether your interventions work well, or not, know what your next step is.
An Innovating Streets project team will ideally include:
A single point of contact for the project through planning, delivery and measurement.
Executive or political support to empower the team to be innovative, push against business-as-usual where needed, and be a face and voice for the project when needed. An external champion is also valuable, especially with influence in the local community.
A suitable qualified and experienced specialist, someone who understands the impacts on transport networks, streets, and urban environments.
Successful projects tend to be part of a wider strategic plan for the community. Pro-people street innovations have multiple benefits so this shouldn’t be a challenge: plans for better safety for all, safer trips to school, more appealing everyday cycling, stronger local economic development. Innovating Streets projects are a way to give urgency to these wider goals, demonstrate progress, and ensure the public debate focuses on how to achieve them via street change.
Without support from the organisation to do things differently, the team will struggle to deliver. With a good team, a clearly defined objective, and evidence to show that ‘business as usual’ isn’t working, it will be easier to get a mandate to be innovative. A key element of this is the organisation’s commitment to publicly learning. This includes publicly learning that something doesn’t work without declaring the project a failure.
Use this guide and other best practice to show the organisation that Innovating Streets projects can be a faster and cheaper way to deliver and communicate change with a community.
There must be an identified mechanism to provide funding for the project. This is not just a procurement plan. The plan needs to be identify a source of funding for a low-cost or low-risk project, or funding within a wider programme for testing potential changes.
Procurement for publicly funded projects can be time consuming. Have a clear understanding of the scale of the project, and how the project components and works will be paid for or procured.
Maintenance is vital, particularly for longer temporary projects. Look for partners in maintenance: local businesses, schools, community groups and advocates as well as the traditional maintenance teams within local authorities.
Temporary projects need special attention to communications, because the risks and opportunities from their communications are different from traditional projects. A plan that’s well understood by the delivery organisation and by external partners and allies will help people understand the important nuances and help things run smoothly.
Addressing needs of the wider community
Temporary testing of street changes enables more diverse (and larger numbers) of people to experience them and have an informed say. It’s recommended to have representatives of the project’s intended beneficiaries in your project team from the outset (e.g. as a reference group).
A big reason to choose temporary techniques over normal project processes is that they enable ‘experiential’ engagement and consultation. This can mean different timings for the project. Especially where the innovative element is part of a much larger project, the overall project plan and temporary installation element must align well with the communications and engagement plan.
Innovating Streets projects involve authorities and communities observe live testing of treatments in real life, including real-time adjustments, in dynamic street environments. Transparent monitoring is crucial for all projects, big or small, and is a vital input into communication. Monitoring needs to be considered from the inception of the project and throughout the project lifecycle. Professional monitoring can be expensive, so look for partners in measurement: local businesses, schools, community groups and advocates as well as the traditional teams within local authorities.