Streets for all in Havana

In Havana, Cuba, the idea of classifying streets based on their functions for all street users, which is also applied in MORE, is taking ground.

Traditionally, urban road classifications were based on the importance of each road for the movement of motorised vehicles, using terms such as “primary route” and “distributor”. The Link & Place concept developed at UCL uses a new two-dimensional classification of ‘movement’ (by all modes of transport) and ‘place’ (importance of the road or street as a destination in itself). This alternative classification is powerful because it broadens the range of stakeholders involved, the agreed functions of each street, and the types of road designs proposed.

This concept is currently being used in the MORE cities and has previously been applied in cities around the world – but seldom in countries with low motorisation rates, such as Cuba. Adriana Ortegon and Paulo Anciaes from UCL are working with CUJAE (Universidad Tecnológica de la Habana José Antonio Echeverría) and Dirección General de Transporte de la Habana to develop a new Link & Place classification for Havana’s road network, as a part of the STEPS-Havana project.

Because of the relatively low motorization rate, little urban sprawl, high personal security, and warm weather, walking is more prevalent in Havana than in other large cities, and streets are often used as social spaces. However, pedestrians also face a high risk of traffic injury due to the layout and poor condition of the infrastructure, an outdated transport fleet, and high speeds enabled by low traffic volumes.

The first workshop with local stakeholders in February 2019 produced an initial version of the new classification of the Havana road/street network. The workshop sparked discussions which concluded that in a city like Havana all road/street types are needed to address the needs of multiple users and enable the sustainable functioning of the city. The exercise also highlighted the importance of a strategic, city-wide, analysis of the road network, rather than isolated assessments of specific areas of the city.