Urban mobility in an urban mosaic: setting priorities

On December 14, 2016, the EUKN together with the Czech Republic organised a Policy Lab on Urban Mobility. Urban Mobility is one of the 12 priority themes set by the Urban Agenda for the EU. This theme will be addressed by the partnership on Urban Mobility which will be coordinated by the Czech Republic and the city of Karlsruhe (DE). The EUKN Policy Lab, moderated by Mr. Mart Grisel, director of the EUKN, functioned as a catalyst to speed up the identification of priorities and obstacles. Participants of the Policy Lab provided input for the ideal outcome of the partnership and brainstormed about ways to achieve better funding, better regulation and better knowledge exchange.

Urban mosaic

Mr. David Koppitz, director for Regional Policy at the Ministry of Regional Development (CZ) opened the day and stated that participants of the policy lab should communicate the key messages both to policy makers and to citizens. He emphasised that urban development is a multi-stakeholder issue and that urban mobility is part of this urban mosaic. Urban mobility is a priority topic in the Czech Republic. It is closely linked to issues such as the quality of life, behaviour of citizens and inclusive cities.

Scope of EU partnerships

Following up on Mr. Koppitz welcoming introduction, Mr. Robert-Jan van Lotringen, programme manager of the Urban Agenda for the EU partnerships at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom relations (NL), gave an overview of the current state of affairs and future developments of the partnerships. He gave some valuable insights in how we can learn from other partnerships that have already started. Some of the key lessons were that partnerships need experts, not generalists, as focus is very important. Moreover, partnerships work on themes with a European scope and are not solving issues on a local or regional scale.

Sustainable urban mobility

The first key note, Mr. Gonçalo Correia, assistant professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at the TU Delft (NL) stressed the importance of seeing mobility in a wider perspective than just cars. He stated that sustainable mobility is a combination between economic, social and environmental factors and that these are highly interlinked. He highlighted fifteen principles for sustainability and gave examples in how European cities were incorporating these principles.

Urban mobility and urban planning

The second key note, Mr. Nuno Pinto, lecturer in urban planning and urban design at the School of Environment, Education and Development of the University of Manchester (UK), gave some guidelines for coordinating this partnership. He stressed that it is important to keep the different scales of urban mobility in mind: e.g. accessibility to a building on a local scale versus the accessibility in the greater metropolitan area determining competitiveness. Mobility is a cross-cutting issue that touches upon many urban subsystems and subtopics. Furthermore, he emphasised that planning is rigid in nature: It usually takes a long time to implement plans. Therefore we should shift to more flexible ways of urban regeneration and urban infrastructure. The soft space of negotiation could overcome problems related to fast evolution of new technology. An example of more flexibility of funding is for example the PPP schemes.

Knowledge availability

After this thorough knowledge session, the afternoon concentrated on setting priorities for the partnership and brainstorm about ideal outcomes related to better funding, better regulation and better knowledge exchange. Many participants underlined the importance of platforms to share knowledge on good and bad practices related to urban mobility. At this moment, there is a lot of information available but it is not structured. There should be a tool that delivers information to the user (this can be citizens, policy makers, researchers, etc.) in a clear and understandable way. Participants were aware that there are already many platforms, networks and tools in place. Therefore, another suggestion would be to improve cooperation between information sharing networks at EU level. Existing mechanisms such as URBACT, ESPON, EUROCITIES or EUKN could be reviewed to improve the structuration of available knowledge.

Alternative funding

At the moment, there is a lack of competence with the current funding structures. A priority for the partnership would therefore be to explore alternative funding opportunities, the European Investment Bank (EIB) could play a role in this. Also, other partners that are interested in funding projects should be involved in the partnership. Moreover, there is a lack of coordination between bodies that are interested in urban mobility, for example different ministries working on urban mobility topics or other networks, organisations and groups. Therefore, different levels of planning and policy making should be better integrated.

Further information

Although the partnership consists of a broader consortium than just the participants of this Policy Lab, the Policy Lab took the first steps in exploring possible priorities of the partnership. This input will be used for the start of the partnership in January 2017. Attached to this article you can find the presentations of our speakers with more information on their topics. A more detailed report about this policy lab will be published in the beginning of January 2017.