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An interview with Kassel, winner of the European Mobility Week Award for larger municipalities

28 June 2022

EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK sat down with the 2021 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award for larger municipalities winner – Kassel - to learn about the City’s upcoming plans for sustainable mobility development and to collect advice for towns and cities looking to follow in its footsteps.

Creating sustainable urban environments requires improving how people get from A to B, and everywhere in between. The German City of Kassel understands the importance of implementing key changes in local transport to encourage a culture of sustainable mobility. In close collaboration with the District of Kassel and the municipal public transport company NVV, the City’s comprehensive efforts, which include installing road safety signs near schools, the renovation of busy streets to better promote cycling infrastructure, and the organisation of creative awareness-raising activities for children and adults, helped it capture the 2021 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award for larger municipalities at an award ceremony in Brussels this spring. Kassel then repeated its success at the German EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award ceremony, once again winning recognition for its sustainable mobility efforts.  

So what’s next for Kassel? How will the City continue to foster an inclusive sustainable mobility culture and develop measures that allow people to make more sustainable travel choices? EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK spoke with Christof Nolda, City Councilor and Head of the Department for Urban Development, Building, Environment and Transport, to learn more about what Kassel has in store.

What does winning the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award for larger municipalities mean for Kassel?

Winning the award meant recognition and tail wind for our approach. It confirmed that Cities, Districts and regional public transport companies can only benefit from joining forces. It assured us that we are on the right track in sensitising citizens on sustainable mobility. It obliged and encouraged us to continue on a path of transformation towards a more secure, joyful, liveable and sustainable region.

The sustainable mobility journey is one of constant adaptation and improvement. What exciting plans does Kassel have in store for the future?

We will build on the successes of last year and attempt to grow in depth and size, i.e. reaching out to even more citizens, cooperating with even more initiatives and becoming even more interactive. During the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, our key focus is on removing (mental) barriers and showcasing alternatives for sustainable mobility. Beyond that, in the next years will see infrastructure developments geared towards the mobility needs of humans – instead of cars.

What advice would you give for cities looking to follow in your footsteps and win the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award?

The more interactive and fun your approach, the better. We provided a number of low-threshold activities: Children proudly wore their self-painted high-visibility vests when walking to school. For people requiring a rollator, a dedicated "rollator training" lowered the barrier to use public transport. Meanwhile, a (cargo) bike trial day made mobility alternatives tangible. These activities were not expensive nor too complex to organise – even less so when you team-up with strong partners from administration, public transport and civil society.

Follow along to see what Kassel is planning for this year’s campaign and find out what your own town or city are doing for sustainable mobility, here.

REPowerEU plan underscores sustainable mobility choices to reduce fuel consumption

22 June 2022

In line with the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK calls on towns and cities to increase their efforts to implement mobility measures that reduce fuel consumption, while creating a more liveable urban environment for people.

Reducing fuel consumption to create more resilient and liveable cities has always been both a cornerstone of the European Commission’s policy approach to building a better future and a fundamental part of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s campaign to encourage a sustainable mobility culture. With the unwarranted Russian invasion of Ukraine, the need to reduce Europe’s dependency on oil has become even more urgent.

Encouraging a sustainable mobility culture to rapidly reduce fuel dependency

In response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the EU launched the REPowerEU Plan to help accelerate Europe’s transition to a clean energy infrastructure. Thousands of towns, cities, organisations, schools, associations, and more, participating in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK are already helping to reduce fuel consumption by encouraging sustainable mobility choices and implementing fuel saving measures.

To continue supporting the reduction of fuel consumption, the REPowerEU plan and EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK are asking towns, cities and people to step up their efforts to implement sustainable mobility measures and to adopt an ‘avoid, shift, improve’ mind-set that will help drastically reduce the use of fuel.

Examples of sustainable urban mobility measures and choices that can easily be organised and replicated across Europe, include:

  • Lowering prices for public transport and rail;
  • Reducing speed zones;
  • Implementing car free zones;
  • Creating bike-sharing and micro-mobility schemes;
  • Incentivising employees to commute using public transport;
  • And more.

Car-Free Days & improved public transport: support EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK & REPowerEU

Two effective ways for EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK participants to support this endeavour, and continue contributing actively to the campaign, are to 1) organise multiple Car-Free Days and 2) improve public transport by implementing relevant permanent measures. These actions will help avoid the use of private vehicles - which are directly correlated to increased fuel consumption - and encourage a shift to trams, metros, buses, bicycles, etc.

Car-Free Days could be organised on a weekly, monthly or ad-hoc basis and have great potential to radically reduce fuel consumption. Meanwhile, to promote a greater shift to public transport use, towns, cities and employers could introduce special offers, additional services or reduced fees.

Over the years, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK has seen many creative activities that encourage the use of public transport including:

  • Offering after-work drinks at nearby bus stops;
  • Setting-up commuter challenges;
  • Arranging meetings between public transport operators and the public;
  • Carrying out surveys to better understand users’ satisfaction and expectations;
  • And more.

As towns and cities are registering their participation for the 2022 campaign, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK urges you to consider actions that will quickly reduce fuel consumption and help eliminate Europe’s dependence on Russian oil.

Slovenia’s National Coordinator leverages 10 years of experience to boost European Mobility Week participation

16 June 2022

After ten years of coordinating EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK in Slovenia, Polona Demšar Mitrovič, reflects on the campaign’s impressive growth and the challenges encountered along the way.

Brussels - In May, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK officially launched its call for registrations from towns and cities for the 2022 campaign year, which will culminate in an exciting week of awareness-raising activities from 16 - 22 September.

As soon as registrations opened, Slovenia emerged as an enthusiastic frontrunner with 93 towns and cities already registered for the 2022 campaign - the most of any country so far. This is a major increase in comparison to the country’s first year of participation ten years ago, when the National Coordinator for Slovenia, Polona Demšar Mitrovič, recalls 20 municipalities participating. After working on the campaign for ten years in the Ministry of Infrastructure in Ljubljana, Slovenia, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK spoke with Polona about how she helped successfully grow the campaign in Slovenia, what challenges she faced and where the campaign is headed next.

Ten years is quite a long time, especially considering it is half of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s life span! The campaign celebrated its 20th anniversary just last year. What changes have you noticed since you began working on the campaign in Slovenia ten years ago?

Yes, in Slovenia there have been many changes. I can tell you that we started with around 20 to 30 municipalities participating at the beginning and now, in the last two years, we have had over 80 municipalities participating, which is really a big change. But what is even more important for us, than the number of cities participating, is the quality of measures that these cities are implementing. The towns and cities have really transformed their point of view from just promoting sustainable mobility to also creating possibilities for behavioural change. For example, cities and towns are working on permanent measures such as infrastructure for walking, cycling and better public transport. This is what actually allows people to change their travel habits, and this is very important.

That is an impressive increase - from 20 - 30 municipalities to 93 already this year. You mentioned that towns and cities have now moved beyond just proposing new ideas to actually creating opportunities for new sustainable mobility developments, such as permanent measures, to arise. What do you think encouraged this change?

Well, it's a long process. And after ten years of working with different stakeholders, giving them examples of good practice, the changes are already showing. What are the possibilities? Where are the problems? Why are these changes so important? People are more aware of the importance of sustainable mobility and when starting changes at the local level, even the political level is now more aware of sustainable mobility’s importance for its own citizens. So, it was a mixture of different processes: awareness-raising, knowledge-sharing, better living conditions, encouraging altogether healthier lifestyles for citizens, this is what people understand now, which they did not ten years ago.

So in Slovenia, you’ve witnessed people change their understanding of sustainable mobility and how it affects their lives. Have you noticed a similar engagement from young people? What are you doing to involve them in the campaign?

This year is the European Year of Youth and we have started to prepare for an event, because we didn't have such a good experience a few years ago. It was quite hard to get young people on board.

So this year, we connected with different youth organisations in Slovenia. We were discussing how to involve young people, what we should do, and we decided to cooperate with young people directly. So they will show us how to best approach them and what they’ve told us - and it's very important - is not just to listen to them, but to act afterwards; not just to involve them, but to show them that what they told us matters and that we will do this for them. This is what we want.

Indeed, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK strongly encourages the engagement of young people in all sustainable mobility related activities!

For more information about the European Year of Youth and how to connect better with this audience, visit our dedicated webpage here. To see which towns and cities have already registered for the 2022 campaign, visit our participating towns & cities page.