Urban nighttime policies

Local and Regional Time Agenda

Two decades ago, France, Italy, and Spain introduced time policies to improve the lives of their citizens by navigating urban rhythms and coordinating local services. However, the approach focused on organizing social time, particularly during daylight hours. This interest was justified: local services from mobility to service provision are primarily centred on the daytime. And when dealing with new proposals on urban time, such policies tend to look at how citizens use urban spaces — or, put differently, how urban habitats are created and used for, and intersect with, varying needs — during the various hours of the day. But a day lasts longer than its hours of daylight, and policies regulating uses of urban spaces also should embrace a nocturnal dimension.

It is therefore no surprise that the night has come to demand the attention of time policies and prompted local and regional governments to address it. But this attention is fragmented, with sector-specific policies that, though important, neglect particular patterns of nighttime use. As varied as nocturnal time policies can be, they must approach this subject holistically. This entails not only considering how citizens, particularly minorities, use, work in and enjoy urban spaces at night, but also identifying the stakeholders involved during these hours and how public administrations deal with intersecting needs in nocturnal urban life.

This Agenda presents 18 nighttime-related public policies implemented at various levels of urban governance that are already changing the urban night for the better. These are complemented by insights from experts, academics, and practitioners like Andreina Seijas, Jakob F. Schmid, and Jordi Nofre. Together, they offer a preface to understand the varying dimensions of how nighttime policies can be conceived and replicated.

Preface to the Agenda

Managing time as the new urban frontier
“In short, cities’ role in enabling a just, inclusive and sustainable coexistence of round-the-clock activities is fundamental. A key piece of this are time-based policies born from a combination of data-driven and human-centred insight informing the way that the public realm in streets and districts is currently used. The invitation, then, is to consider new ways in which public, private and community actors can facilitate the gathering of these insights to positively shape and enhance the experiences of our cities not only during the day, but also during the night.”
Andreina Seijas
Founder of Night Tank, Associate at Gehl
Time policies as tools for more sustainable, inclusive, egalitarian, and healthier nocturnal cities
“Since the early 2010s, a remarkable number of initiatives and strategies around the globe have sought to design higher quality, more equitable, healthier and more environmentally sustainable urban environments. [...] In this sense, a strategy to govern the nocturnal city based on the interplay between a time policy approach and chrono-urbanism offers an excellent opportunity to reflect on and discuss how our urban nights must be in future if they are to successfully foster more environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive, egalitarian and healthier nocturnal cities and integrate researchers’ knowledge, private sector and institutional expertise, and local community initiatives.”
Jordi Nofre
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia Associate Research Professor at NOVA University Lisbon LXNIGHTS Research Group Coordinato
Unlocking the Potential of Nighttime: A comprehensive overview of nightlife governance, neightbourhood rest, and youth engagement
“Nightlife is often considered a crucial indicator of the urban experience and — depending on individual participation and interests — of quality of life in a city. [...] The topic is intertwined with the challenges inherent to time policies. First, lifestyles and cultures are increasingly plural and expressed in increasingly heterogeneous everyday practices. Second, the task of managing the spatial, functional and temporal urban conflicts that result from these “asynchronies” (e.g. restful neighbourhoods and noise disturbance) will gain relevance as the urban renaissance continues to sweep Europe.”
Jakob F. Schmid
Urban planner and nighttime economy expert
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