Urban mobility: what is the way forward?

The European Commission (DG REGIO and DG MOVE) have organised an Urban Development Network event bringing together cities to exchange knowledge and experiences in Smart, Innovative & Sustainable urban mobility on 23 November 2016 in Brussels.

The three main questions of this event were:

  1. What are the main investment opportunities in smart, innovative and sustainable city mobility? 
  2. What are barriers to invest in (new) urban mobility solutions (services, cleaner vehicles) that cities and suppliers experience? 
  3. How could connecting cities from different groups – like the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities (the Urban Mobility Cluster), transport innovators and cities investing Structural Funds on urban mobility challenges - overcome these barriers?

As the EUKN is busy with organising a policy lab on Sustainable Mobility together with the Czech Republic, attending this Urban Development Network event was helpful for gaining inspiration and to exchange ideas. During the plenary session it was emphasised that behavioural changes are key in order to implement the mobile shift. Trust needs to be built in order to attract investments from the private sector. Moreover, policy makers need to stimulate behavioural changes among the citizens. Additionally, bottom up initiatives that favour sustainable mobility should be encouraged and supported.

The EUKN participated in the workshop on ‘Investing in active modes (walking and cycling) in urban areas: what works and what doesn't? Potential for innovation’ with the City of Gdansk, European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), European Cyclists' Federation (ECF) and Rupprecht Consult. This workshop was centred around the debate of stimulating behavioural changes of citizens and stimulating them to walk or cycle in cities. ETSC stated that it is key to increase the perception of safety to convince citizens to walk or cycle more. Cities should apply Infrastructure Safety Directive to all roads, promote modal hierarchy based on safety, introduce 30 km/h zones in residential areas, prioritise intersection safety. The ECF moreover stated that cities deserve a place in smart cities, by for example collecting data with the use of GPS sensors on smart bikes. Moreover, cycling is a smart way to use urban space optimally, as it will take up less space than cars (also the most energy efficient cars). Rupprecht Concult emphasised that with FLOW, partner cities can pilot an assessment tool that looks at the congestion impact of walking and cycling measures as well as improved transport modelling simulation tools. These will be used to develop implementation scenarios and action plans to add or upscale cycling and walking measures shown to reduce congestion.

Another dialogue that the EUKN participated in was on ‘Smooth connections between long distance and urban transport: integrating urban nodes into TEN-T’ with the City of Vienna, UITP, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and TPLAN Consulting. As of January 2014, the European Union has a new transport infrastructure policy that connects the continent between East and West, North and South. This policy aims to close the gaps between Member States' transport networks, remove bottlenecks that still hamper the smooth functioning of the internal market and overcome technical barriers such as incompatible standards for railway traffic. This workshop discussed the project opportunities for a strong integration of long-distance and urban mobility for passengers and freight, the impediments of identification preparation and implementation of these projects and the challengers around multilevel governance, stakeholder participation and financing. UITP aims to improve these multimodal interchanges: the places of integration where corridors become networks. The City of Vienna showcased the seamless integration of corridors and urban nodes and the importance of Vienna in this corridor network (with connections to Budapest and Prague). On the other hand, Hamburg focuses on the improvement of bottlenecks that obstruct the efficiency of transport and conflicts with air pollution limits.

At the end of the day, it was concluded that there is a need for a broad approach to the core network, with a focus on corridors, nodes and regions. More flexibility and openness to solutions are necessary to stimulate an integrative approach on local, region and EU level (collaboration between DG MOVE and DG REGIO). These lessons learned will be taken into account during the Policy Lab on Urban Mobility in Prague, Czech Republic, the 14th of December.