“Mierīgi” – Calm street

Riga, Latvia ,2014

More than half of the public space in European cities is dominated by private cars, which represents a spatial injustice.

On Miera Street (next to Maiznicas) in Riga, Latvia, there were 4 lanes for cars, but 90% of cars drove on the two central lanes, which were shared with the tram tracks. 9m of the 17m section of the street was dedicated to cars. At the same time, pedestrians and cyclists had to line up to share a narrow pavement.

In September 2014, Fine Young Urbanists took action after 2 years of analysis. The goal: to reclaim space for effective mobility and social life. This experiment was framed within a larger strategy to reclaim space for bicycles in the city of Riga.

For the initiators, it was crucial to design together with the community that would use it. After reaching an agreement with local residents and shopkeepers and raising 7,000 euros, a 14-metre long section, a total of 250 square metres, was intervened. The experiment was completely painted in a blue sky colour to give it an air of surreality and was named Mierigi, which translates as calm/peaceful.

A plywood pavement extension was introduced reducing the car lanes to two. If left space for a bike lane, benches, flower pots, a bicycle repair stand and an information point about the objectives of the experiment. But it also freed some space that the café owners, seeing the potential, took the opportunity to put chairs and tables for their customers.

The installation lasted only three days but it was only allowed to stay for a week despite the improvement in quality of life being evident. It taught an important lesson: before conquering city space, it is necessary to conquer the citizens’ awareness.

What do you think?

Photos by: Fine Young Urbanists, @evelina_o

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