Innovation projects for liveable cities.
The mobility lab consists of Anja Berestetska and Max Wiesner, and the scientific supervision by Prof. Gertz as well as two student assistants who support us. They are the contact persons for young adults who have questions, suggestions or ideas about mobility-related projects. They want to generate contributions and opinions of students and pupils for the mobility transition and contribute to Hamburg’s mobility discourse together with them. To this end, they organise and supervise several non-curricular and interdisciplinary learning opportunities.
Besides that, the transfer of knowledge is one of their main concerns: through our social media presence on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, they inform interested people about the mobility sector – news, events and formats to participate in. It is important to them to provide a free and informative channel displaying the full range of offers and events to everyone who is keen on the topic.
For them, knowledge transfer also means offering a digital platform where exceptional and innovative theses from Hamburg’s universities are published: https://www2.tuhh.de/mobillab-hh/wissenstransfer/
hvv switch: How did you come up with the idea for the mobility transition laboratory?
Anja & Max: The idea originally came from Hamburg’s Ministry of Urban Development and Environment (BUKEA) as a reaction to Senate Paper 21/9700 on the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals www.globalgoals.org This led to the creation of our task force and the Mobility Laboratory Coordination Office with representatives from science and further public authorities. Above all, the students of Hamburg’s universities have been and still are in demand as the users of future mobility who contribute impulses to the current mobility discourse. From the very beginning, it was important to us to link the students’ ideas and the authorities’ needs and to create a platform for enhanced exchange. We see the mobility lab as a particular kind of interface connecting young adults, administration and transport companies.
hvv switch: What tools and processes do you use in the lab? How do science and participation processes manage to interact?
Anja & Max: We often think back to our own student days: which formats and events did we really enjoy, where did we get the most out of them? We like to share these ideas with our students, receive feedback from them. We exchange ideas with our colleagues and partners in the group and thus develop creative formats.
As our events are non-curricular, we have a certain freedom of design and can try out many formats experimentally – from design thinking to hybrid summer schools. We like to take the leading mobility experts on board and let them discuss at eye level with students. The best thing about it is that mobility directly affects everyone, so participation is always very strong.
Trial and error are key in science – but how much room can there really be for it under the lab conditions of a city that has to function on a daily basis?
If you look back at the last legislature at federal level and the associated transport minister, it will quickly strike you that urban and mobility planning often resemble open-heart surgery – an undertaking which is certainly not always easy while being highly purposeful for more sustainable development. This makes it all the more important to constantly develop new ideas and think outside the box to find better solutions.
Traffic experiments such as the ones we have already implemented in Ottensen, Lokstedt or surrounding Hamburg’s town hall are therefore exactly the right instruments to find innovative solutions to old problems. These endeavours are always planned with sufficient lead time and, of course, accompanied by evaluation processes. A system as complex as Hamburg’s urban area cannot be simulated so easily; sometimes you just have to really do it.
hvv switch: From summer 2019 to 2022, you have developed various mobility topics between science, the city and citizenship. Which projects stand out for you?
Anja & Max: The Creative Innovation Class. For this project, we cooperated with Kreativgesellschaft Hamburg, carrying out the entire programme with over 50 students and six challenges. In our challenge, we focused on the question of “How can the mobility of young families be guaranteed to be car-free, spontaneous and safe?”. We discussed the issue with seven participants over a period of four months. The results were ideas for making public transport more family-friendly.
The Summer School. In September 2021, 18 students from four Hamburg universities came together to spend a week intensively studying the area around the Kulturenergiebunker Altona (Kulturenergiebunker) and its mobility. Our aim was the transdisciplinary transfer of knowledge and brainstorming of mobility concepts for this particular neighbourhood. The programme included various content inputs, including social exclusion in mobility, offers and goals of the Hamburger Hochbahn as well as mobility scenarios by, for instance, the Department of Economics, Transport and Innovation.
In order to raise awareness for this neighbourhood, the programme included guided tours and exchanges with KEBAP e.V. activists, and a survey of mobility needs in this particular quarter was also conducted. Analyses of the traffic situation, the desired and (non-)existing space requirements of the different modes of transport were part of the process. One specific condition for the Summer School was the willingness to carry out independent problem-solving development and to ensure a self-organised approach by the students.
(Background information: KEBAP e.V. and KEGA e.G. are cooperative planning associations to convert the former bunker building in Schomburgstraße into a neighbourhood energy supplier and cultural centre by 2025. The participating students came from the TU Hamburg, the HafenCity University, the University of Applied Sciences and the University of Hamburg.)
Last but not least RALF: City biking put first. In the summer of 2020, an interdisciplinary group of students at the EX_Kurs Summer School (Summer School 2020) explored the topic of alternatives to car parking for the use of enhanced street space in large cities. From this, a group of Summer School participants developed – among them students from HCU Hamburg and TU Berlin as well as our partners from Mobilitätslabor Hamburg and Zinnwerke e.V. – to create RALF as an energetic follow-up project (Rundesamt). It is intended to show what possibilities present themselves when parked cars give way and urban space opens up for its users. The team planned and developed functional prototypes of a mobile bicycle parking facility in different scales, which are now being put up in Hamburg and Berlin.
The basis of the “Hamburger Anhänger” is a boat trailer on which a wooden construction (prototype here painted in pink) has been installed. It offers space for four bicycles as well as mobile seating and a table. The trailer can be moved by any vehicle with a trailer coupling, and by size it can legally be parked in any public car park.
The project was supported by the City of Hamburg from the #moinzukunft climate fund. This spring and summer, RALF will roll up on Hamburg’s streets and create awareness for an innovative traffic turnaround.
Berlin’s contribution under the name “Karawane Parkraum” is a series of trailers, smaller and lighter than RALF, that can be attached to bicycles for transport. The Caravan trailers are more flexible than RALF due to their size and also more versatile due to their smaller-scale design: what was once parking space becomes an urban kitchen, garden, workshop, playground or café simply by dint if the trailer. Karawane Parkraum was additionally financed by funding from the “Urbane Praxis” project fund.
hvv switch: Can some regularities be derived from past trials? When were projects particularly successful?
Anja & Max: Trying things out, simply doing things, learning from different disciplines and thus understanding the diversity of the needs of a large and modern city like Hamburg has so far provided exciting results and truly eye-opening moments. It is most fruitful when we succeed in initiating and promoting a dialogue between Hamburg’s administration and the students right from the start. In this way, ideas and needs can be aligned, we can benefit from mutual knowledge and experience and essentially open up a new perspective on the projects.
hvv switch: In class, exciting research work is done every semester on topics such as traffic noise protection or mobility offers for senior citizens. Which one was particularly special for you?
Anja & Max: Every student work highlights aspects that are worth seeing. We are most pleased when a piece of work is particularly relevant and at the same time suitable for generating publicity. This was especially the case with the work on “Pkw-Freiheit in Hoheluft-Ost”; the students’ results were discussed in close collaboration with the Bezirksamt Nord and a regional committee.
In general, car freedom and cycling are aspects that are frequently in demand right now. Future-forward concepts such as the 15-minute city and Barcelona’s superilles as well as traffic experiments such as “Ottensen macht Platz” are also really popular.
hvv switch: Which party do you think is still missing from your network?
Anja & Max: In the future, we want to bring together as many scientists as we can in order to establish an advisory body on mobility issues. We therefore need to expand our contacts with the scientific community in northern Germany. This is not always easy, because the sector of mobility research and transport planning is currently – and in the future even more explicitly – facing many old and new tasks. We’re also planning even more contact with start-ups and innovative mobility service providers.