Tucalle: Making Way for Pedestrians (Innovation Type: Institutional Pioneer)



Innovation Type: Institutional Pioneer

Urban challenge

Home to over 115,000 people, Ciudad de la Costa in the Departamento de Canelones of Uruguay is the municipality with the largestpopulation in its department. The population density in Ciudad de la Costa stands at a whopping 2,285 inhabitants per square km, whilethat of the whole Departamento de Canelones is only 115.4 inhabitants per square km. Most notably, 99.9% of the Municipality'spopulation live in urban areas. Fostering social inclusion, sustainability, and mobility in the urban environment requires rethinking howurban interventions should be designed and developed, and has become one of the key priorities of the Municipality of Ciudad de laCosta.


TuCalle, an initiative for sustainable urban mobility, was launched in Ciudad de la Costa to improve the urban mobility and coexistenceamong inhabitants by generating more spaces for pedestrians, cyclists, and skaters while reducing vehicle traffic. A specific area waschosen as the area of intervention to test the pilot and a series of participatory workshops with neighbours, school children, cyclists,skaters, and city officials was organised to diagnose key challenges and co-design solutions. The intervention materialised in the formof three discrete ideas for the target area: (i) an inclusive street for active mobility comprising a pedestrian sidewalk and a bicycle-priority mixed-use road with a speed limit of 30 km/h, (ii) a unidirectional section on both sides of the road for the exclusive enjoymentof cyclists and skaters, and (iii) a large pedestrian space with seven crossroads and pedestrian sidewalks, and heavily regulated trafficto allow citizens to reclaim the city whilst improving road safety. 

Innovation process

With the hope of improving urban mobility, the Municipality of Ciudad de la Costa approached the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Uruguay todesign and execute urban interventions in a sustainable and innovative way. Together with the Departmental Government of Canelonesand the UNDP-Global Environmental Facility project MOVÉS in Uruguay, they ideated the TuCalle initiative to experiment with 'tacticalurbanism', a methodology that focuses on urban interventions with citizen-centred, participatory, and scalable approaches. Throughintensive citizen participation in interactive workshops to decide on the geographic scope of intervention, to diagnose the problem, andto devise solutions, this community-driven methodology guided the local government authorities in increasing their capacity to address urban challenges informed by strong participation and creative experimentation. 


Certain components in these solutions have inspired replication in other Uruguayan cities – these well-received solutions includecreative signalling elements, such as skating icons in bike lanes, and colour coding methods to visualise traffic conditions. Thegovernment, who were actively engaged in all stages of the pilot, built and developed greater capacity to design, execute, and replicateurban interventions in the future. Currently, the pilot is at its final stage of evaluation, where its impacts, strengths, weaknesses,scalability, and replicability will all be carefully assessed to scale the initiative to other cities in the near future.

Key takeaways

  • TuCalle has responded to the needs of its residents with non-tech-centric approaches - strategically engaging localactors and leveraging existing resources. The combination of strong political will, effective collaboration, citizenengagement, and technical input from a variety of actors have been the non-digital key to this project's success. 
  • A mix of quantitative and qualitative feedback is crucial. The information and data collected and analysed throughoutthe pilot were largely qualitative, and hence useful in better understanding the nuances of locals' experiences withmobility in the city. However, a heavy reliance on qualitative data collection could also lead to long project times andcomplex participatory design solutions. Hence, the use of cameras and sensors are being tested in several use cases tocontribute quantitative information that could inform the rapid replication of some components of this solution in othercities, tailored to their needs. 
  • Such open, participatory approaches naturally come with uncertainties in planning, budget, and deadlines. As such,the city council’s flexibility, adaptability, and eagerness to explore and take an open approach have been pivotal to thesuccess of the project. 

Learn more about Smart Urban Innovations from around the world in the UNDP Smart Urban Innovations Handbook:

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City, Country: 
Ciudad de la Costa, Uruguay
Thematic Area: 
Institutional Pioneers
Submitted 1 year 7 months ago by Ider Batbayar.