The first city in Romania with jurors from among the citizens to solve the problem of road traffic

Râmnicu Vâlcea City Hall initiated a new project through which citizens can get involved in solving some local public administration problems. A jury made up of 20 members chosen through a lottery will have the mission of finding solutions to the congested traffic in the city, a problem encountered today everywhere, not only in Romania.

A jury of 20 Vâlcea residents will decide the fate of traffic in Rm Vâlcea Source inquestsolutions co

The idea of ​​this local authorities – civil society partnership was born two years ago, and since then a series of negotiations have been going on for its implementation.

The Citizens' Jury from Râmnicu Vâlcea will be the first deliberative process ever recorded in Romania. 2,000 residents of Râmnice are invited to participate in a civic lottery through which the jurors will be chosen randomly.

Before exercising their ability to propose solutions, the jurors will be “schooled” by experts in several fields, to understand exactly what it is about, the limits within which they will be able to act, but also how similar processes have been conducted in other places of the world. The proposals that must be agreed upon must be voted on by at least 80% of the members before being presented to the new Local Council of the Râmnicu Vâlcea municipality, immediately after the May elections, for approval.

Instead of money, for the work performed, as happens in other countries, the Valcen jurors will instead receive various rewards in the form of travel tickets for public transport, invitations to handball matches and theater performances, music, etc.

The Citizens' Jury of Mobility from Râmnicu Vâlcea is the result of a joint effort of the municipality, civil society through the Vâlcea Community Foundation, the Happy Cities Association, and the European Commission – DG REGIO, responsible for the Cohesion Funds – as well as the Organization for Development and Cooperation Economic (OECD).

20 jurors chosen randomly from 2000 invitees

Compared to the Basque Country, where around 500,000 euros were invested from the local budget for the implementation of such a process, the funds allocated by the Râmnic City Hall are practically insignificant – approximately 5,000 euros.

Such “Citizens' Assemblies” have been held for some time in the world, and in Europe the greatest success in this sense has been recorded by the Poles so far.

Gabriela Solomon, director of programs within the Vâlcea Community Foundation, explained for
“The Truth” how the whole process takes place and how the Citizens' Jury will be chosen: “It will be made up of both young people and seniors, ladies and gentlemen, people with and without college, people who use public transport or not, physically disabled or not, etc.. All of us, first they will go through a learning process, in which they will learn as much as possible about the chosen topic – in our case, the problem is traffic congestion, especially around holidays, holidays, weekends, or peak hours. Very few citizens use public transport, despite major investments made by the municipality in recent years. In such conditions, one wants to find out what the administration can do to make public transport or other sustainable alternatives more attractive to citizens”.

The jurors will develop collective recommendations to the Râmnicu Vâlcea City Hall and the Local Council, to solve the problem of traffic and transport, including the shared one. But first they will come together to learn and deliberate.

Jury by profession Photo cinemagia ro

Jury by profession Photo cinemagia ro

“Those who want to educate the jurors are experts from the City Hall, who made the Urban Mobility Plan, architects, people who studied urban planning, even in other places, specialists from outside the county in urban mobility plans. That is, on the one hand, there will be both experts from the local level, who will be able to draw attention including to local legislation, but also from the national or international level who have the vision of other cities, regarding the solutions implemented for problems of this kind”also mentioned the civil society representative, recalling that in countries such as the Netherlands, solutions with long-term impact have been found.

The civic lottery, modeled after ancient Athens

Citizen Jury is familiar from American courtroom movies. The idea of ​​randomly choosing 2,000 citizens of Valceni took into account the nomenclature of the streets, not the names, due to the protection of personal data – GDPR, an algorithm was used that took into account both addresses on the big boulevards and the smallest alleys.

Those who receive the invitations – only one member of each family over the age of 18 – must confirm whether they want to participate in the Civic Lottery – random selection as in ancient Athens.

In a month we will find out who the jurors are, and the deliberative process itself will close until the election date, May 9, when there will also be a list of recommendations for improving mobility in Râmnicu Vâlcea. But the whole month of April will be one of learning and deliberation. Such processes carried to the end have changed the perception of citizens about how they relate to public administration”Gabriela Solomon from the Vâlcea Community Foundation also mentioned.

Also in Râmnicu Vâlcea, the municipality purchased ten fixed radars, with electronic display, with the idea of ​​tempering speeding drivers.