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Gracia’s Vía

What is it? Description of the service

A free and friendly neighbourhood transportation unit made up of a platform seat with rails that will facilitate mobility for pedestrians in the area- especially elderly people living there promoting interaction within the community. (This is not a fast transportation system for rush hour, but a service with a leisure objective).

What for? Origin or issues to be resolved

Gracia is an old, trendy and lively neighbourhood in Barcelona. There is a mixture of young and old; everyone knows each other and they hang out in the same places: the town squares. These are an important element in the area: they function as meeting places, they have coffee shops and benches where people meet or just sit and enjoy the atmosphere and the fresh air.

Gracia is a pedestrian-friendly area. There are not a lot of cars and some streets are pedestrianized; people of all ages walk to the supermarket and meet up in the squares. There are not many facilities here to help the elderly to carry their belongings, or to make their walks easier or shorter.

Also, because of the big difference in the ages of those living in Gracia, it will be an advantage for both sets of people; interacting, helping or being helped, gives Gracia the feeling of a small town where everybody knows each other– this is one of the main things the elderly miss out on in other places.

Who? Agents

  • MANAGERS: this service will be provided with help from the City Hall, and rails will be installed in the pedestrian areas, extending for 2-3 blocks around the squares. The cart works mechanically: it is a platform with wheels and a seat that has to be pushed/pulled by someone else.
  • RECEIVERS: two kinds of users spring to mind:

Primary user: the system is designed especially for elderly people who want to walk around and spend time in the squares or meet with neighbours from the area. For example:

  • Elderly people that want to enjoy a healthy and lively walk outside and meet with old friends but don’t feel strong enough to do it alone
  • Elderly people with reduced mobility, who go out with a Social Helper/Nurse. This system could help if they feel tired or just want to stop for some reason.
  • Middle-aged healthy people that need to carry heavy stuff and get tired.

Secondary user: any other potential user who would want to ease their mobility when carrying personal belongings and/or babies and prams.

How does it work? Development

  1. The user arrives to the Gracia cart station.
  2. They sit on the seat and put their personal belongings on the basket next to the seat.
  3. The user asks for help from a pedestrian so that he/she can be pushed all the way to the square. The user can also attach the cart to another cart with a hook, so that both carts are pushed/pulled at the same time.
  4. The user leaves the cart in the cart station.
  5. The key factor in this project is not only the vehicle development, but how to facilitate interaction between the people from the neighbourhood. Let’s envision three possible scenarios:

SCENARIO 1 main user

person: Teresa, age: 78

To enjoy a healthy and fresh walk outside and meet with old friends at the “Plaza de la Virreina”. Teresa needs a cane to walk, especially to support her left leg, so it takes her a while to walk to the square, even though she only lives 4 blocks away.

  1. Once she is closer to the square, her leg is already tired, but she finds the “Graciaʼs Via” station, and then she sits on the platform seat.
  2. She puts her bag, cane and umbrella under the platform seat.
  3. She asks a young guy who is walking his dog if he would please push her for a couple of blocks toward the “Plaza de la Virreina”.
  4. The young guy simply pushes the platform seat by the handle at the back.

Teresa managed to get to the square without getting more tired and could interact with the nice young man, who also lives in the area; she actually found out that he goes to the same school as her granddaughter. Sheʼs happy to see that even though Gracia is not what it used to be when she moved there, there are still nice young people. The young man left with a good feeling because he could help the old lady while walking his dog.

SCENARIO 2 main user

person: Carlos, age: 83

Hi’s reason for moving around: to enjoy a healthy walk and sit in the square to enjoy its atmosphere, observe people and take fresh air.

  1. Once they arrive at “Graciaʼs Via” station, Maria helps him to sit in the platform seat.
  2. She folds the walker and puts it under the seat
  3. She pushes Carlos all the way to the square.
  4. Once they arrive at the station, Maria pushes the platform back to the cart station.
  5. She helps him to stand up and walks with him a few steps to the bench where he likes to sit.

Carlos still managed to go to the square and enjoy his time there while Maria feels useful and knows that Carlos is not as tired as he normally is.

SCENARIO 3 secondary user

person: Irene, age: 33

People with stuff and a baby. To go buy food and other things from the supermarket.

  1. Once they are at the “Graciaʼs Via” station, Irene puts her stuff under the platform seat.
  2. She walks while pushing the seat, and her son walks with her.

“Graciaʼs Via” helps Irene to walk with her stuff easily, even though she lives only 3 blocks away. She would be glad to help somebody else that needed help by attaching their cart to hers; now she has one hand free and she can still hold her son’s hand.

Why? Significance

Because there are not many facilities to help the elderly when they are carrying their belongings while walking or to make the walk easier or shorter.

Also, having such a big difference of age between the people living in Gracia, we should use it as an advantage for all of them; by interacting, either helping or being helped, the inhabitants of Gracia have the feeling that they live in a small town where everybody knows each other- this is one of the main things the elderly miss. Gracia’s Via is a facilitator (in every sense: physical, mental and social).

  • Elderly people are able to move around Gracia more easily
  • Elderly people are able to interact with other people, which will enhance the mind-set of both the elderly and those helping them
  • To encourage outdoor life and walking, which are both friendly to the environment and good for people’s health.
  • It would make it easier for the elderly to walk long distances even if they are by themselves or carrying bags or things they bought from the supermarket.
  • It will continue attracting people to the main squares as meeting points and it will enhance the interaction between youngsters and the elderly.

Credits:

Alejandra González, Piraya Ruangpungtong.
IED Barcelona. Barcelona, Spain

Teacher: Elena Rocchi


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