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Feminist urbanism reaches the streets of Reus

The reform of the railway bridge in the Gaudí neighborhood, the increase in lighting around the bus station or the gardening design of the skatepark that is taking shape in front of the Parc dels Capellans are some of the municipal works in which the gender issue.

Almost a year ago, the City Council approved its Plan d’Acció per a l’Ordenació Urbanística des de la Perspectiva Feminista, which aims, as stated in the document, to respond to «an unequal society in which people have different opportunities and obligations depending on if we are women, men, or have a non-binary identity, and that inequality is reflected in the way space is constructed». The idea is “to improve not only the quality of daily life of women in the city, but that of all people by integrating the diversity of subjects, experiences and tasks, prioritizing the needs of people over economic benefits.”

To identify the shortcomings of Reus in this regard, women’s marches toured and explored a dozen neighborhoods. Municipal sources specify the diary that these “will have continuity” through collaboration with the Civic Centers.

Mirrors and facilities to cross

The Pla d’Acció established eleven interventions to be carried out by the City Council and some have already been activated. One is the rehabilitation of the Gaudí neighborhood bridge, a point where “many people lengthen their journey to avoid going through there at certain times”, according to the municipal diagnosis. Despite the fact that “the ideal long-term action is to bury the tracks and that there is no tunnel”, for the moment it has been decided to “increase the lighting, reduce the speed of the cars, make it easier to change sidewalks at both entrances in instead of having to walk as much to do it as now, and placing mirrors in the corners to ensure visibility. The works began in March, with an investment of half a million and an execution period of four months.

Another of the actions in which progress is already being made is the increase in public lighting on Escultor Rocamora street, at the bus station, to “improve the perception of safety of people who walk.” The Pla notes that “it is necessary to improve the maintenance of the space.” There, “badly parked cars hinder visibility” and the “poorly maintained area” is seen.

Expand the sidewalks where there are now planters, implement criteria of transparency in the facades and portals when they are modified, promote the use of the ground floors with some type of community management, place lower lampposts or program children and family activities so that the community approaches public thoroughfares –such as “cutting off the street to play, creating a community mural, shop stops in the streets once a month…”– are the changes planned for Escultor Rocamora.

The increase in lighting is included in a set of up to ten lighting improvement packages, budgeted at 365,000 euros, which will also be deployed in the Mare Molas passage or Joan Bertran street, and in those of Sant Elíes, Santa Teresa, Els Recs, Boule and De l’Hospitalera, De la Lleona or on Jaume I avenue.

The city is also immersed in the connection between public transport, active mobility and the train station with the layout of new bike lanes and “especially with the tender for the works that will connect the train and bus stations with Bellissens” . The Pla d’Acció puts the focus on the “lack of continuity of the pedestrian route” in this area, “underequipped” stations and that “there is no information related to schedules and connections between transport” and “there is no continuity to reach by bike to the station. And he proposes to eliminate parking spaces, improve the accessibility of Segle XXI avenue and Bisbe Borràs street, create a square in front of the train station and that the buses that depart from Paseo Mata pass through there.

The Councilor for Urban Planning, Marina Berasategui, recalls that the Plan d’Acció per a l’Ordenació Urbanística de la Perspectiva Feminista “is a useful document, a new work tool, which sets criteria and sets duties and challenges; but it also It confirms that we are doing things right and that we already met many of the criteria.”

Benches instead of parking

But the Pla contains other precise and striking actions. It plans to connect the three residences and the CAP Marià Fortuny with benches with trellises and armrests –individual and collective– and accessible streets, with a minimum sidewalk width of 90 centimeters, eliminate parking on Jardí dels Poetes street to install furniture. Also adapt the entrance and exit of the Escola Joan Rebull as “a quiet, spacious place with elements that accompany waiting, playing and socializing” and close access to the train tracks.

Likewise, continuity will be given to the routes near the Plaza de la Sang and another crossing will be created in the Riera Miró, in addition to eliminating obstacles on the sidewalks and reducing the speed of cars. A call will be opened for the temporary transfer of the vacant lot on Sant Elíes street to social entities of the municipality until the land has a definitive destination. The barriers that close the site of the old Fira will be removed to increase connections and create green areas and children’s games.

As a result of the Plan, there will also be a network of public restrooms and a municipal program will be promoted with businesses so that they give them up in areas where there are none within 500 meters or an 8-minute walk. Lockers will be set up to store purchases in some passages and benches in the Tomb de Ravals at a maximum distance of 200 meters, and the meeting space between Sant Elíes and Sant Josep streets will be equipped, since it is “without activity and underused” and “the ground floor is in disuse.”

The voice of the expert: «Cities have been designed from a male point of view»

“Feminist urbanism addresses how the city influences women, especially in terms of safety, and takes into account that it is inclusive, that difficulties from lighting to accessibility are resolved,” explains Cèlia Mallafrè, professor at the Escola Technical Superior d’Arquitectura (ETSA) of the URV, asked about the meaning of plans such as Reus.

“Historically, architects have been men and, therefore, cities have been conceived from a male point of view,” he says. What does this mean? “That there are spaces, for example, that are poorly lit, that are not safe,” says Mallafrè, and poses a situation: “When it’s night and you come home, sometimes you think ‘I won’t go through here because there’s no light, or because there are corners where I don’t know who can get me out the other side or there are very deep entrances’. There is a feeling of insecurity and urban planning with a gender perspective values ​​all this and takes it into account. «The width of the streets, or ensuring the maintenance of the trees so that they do not block the light and limit the field of vision» are other relevant issues in this regard.

The plan raised controversy when it was presented because the concept was not fully understood. “If there were a society that was more respectful and the problems that exist at the security level did not arise, we would not look at this,” adds the architect, who specifies that “we start from the evidence that security is related to gender.” Mallafrè replies that feminist urbanism “is not a fad, but a trend” and that its results can be assessed “after ten or twenty years, not in a month or two.”

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