Sustainable mobility in urban areas

25 Apr 2022

Sustainable mobility in urban areas

Image: Aloha Fred

How can cities best plan towards a zero-carbon mobility vision in 20-30 years’ time? Should a parking policy aim to reduce car usage or also make parking more easily available for those who need it? These were just some of the key themes raised during the ‘Sustainable mobility in urban areas’ session at last month’s H2020 Road Transport Research European Conference, held in Brussels.

The session began with an introduction from Piotr Rapacz (DG MOVE), who presented how the EU urban mobility framework aims to supports cities to make urban mobility smart, safe, inclusive and sustainable. Representatives from the Horizon 2020 funded projects Park4SUMP (Patrick Auwerx, Mobiel 21) and SUMP-PLUS (Charlotte Halpern, Sciences Po Paris and Peter Jones, UCL) presented their projects, highlighting how they support cities with their sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMPs) from various angles.

Patrick Auwerx highlighted that 95% of the time, our cars aren’t being driven, and therefore consume (highly subsidised) urban space. Even when there is a fee, it usually doesn’t cover the true cost of parking. Therefore the aim of Park4SUMP is to integrate strategic parking management into SUMP visions and policies. He acknowledged that parking is an emotional topic and that most politicians don’t want to confront it because they fear losing voters. The parking policy audit tool, being developed within Park4SUMP, addresses this challenge by enabling stakeholders to discuss the topic based on facts and figures (rather than on emotions).

Charlotte Halpern then presented how SUMP-PLUS is also filling the gaps, where guidance for cities implementing SUMPs can usefully be enhanced and expanded. A key focus of the project is ‘The Challenge’ for cities to have strategic mobility planning in place for a 20-30 year period. Developing a robust and context specific transition pathway entails  a vision of the desired future city as the starting point, anchored in a holistic long-term strategy for urban development. SUMP-PLUS develops concepts, methods and tools to support city authorities in working with major transport service providers, trip generating sectors such as health and education, and their understanding of urban structures. The City typology also informs policy makers at EU and Member states levels, to understand the specific needs of a diverse group of cities.

In addition, Sump-Plus recognizes that not only is the planning towards the vision critical, but also the management of implementation. This requires the development of an implementation strategy, for which SUMP-PLUS is developing a set of methods and tools, including:

  • a policy mix carbon reduction tool to maximise the scale of each policy measure and ensure its impact on carbon reduction
  • a budget tracker and financial framework tool to scale-up and leverage financing opportunities;
  • a policy capacity index, to strengthen their role and steering capacities in a context of multi-level governance;
  • stakeholder engagement tools, to ensure the continued engagement of citizen and stakeholders; and
  • an evaluation methodology to assess the strategy’s intangible impacts.

The shift from concepts to practice is ensured through the six ambitious co-creation city labs, from which Charlotte gave examples: how Klaipėda City (Lithuania) is focussing on a SUMP financial strategy to fund a core bus rapid transit (BRT) line; how Greater Manchester (UK) is bringing together health and transport sectors to enhance their integration and develop a health and transport de-carbonisation action plan; and that Platanias (Greece), the touristic island city with high levels of seasonal tourism, is contributing to SUMP guidelines for small cities.

Charlotte then briefly mentioned what guidance is being developed as part of SUMP PLUS, such as:

  • Guidelines and briefings for cities, with a particular focus on small cities and cross-sectoral links
  • A network of Follower cities and a CityConsult Agency platform to encourage peer-to-peer learning.

The event finished with questions from an actively engaged audience, moderated by Karen Vancluysen (POLIS).

For more details you can access the event recordings, available here.

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