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An interview with Brussels Capital Region, winner of the 8th SUMP Award

28 July 2020

Bruno Van Loveren, Strategy and Programming Director, Mobility Planning Authority, Brussels Capital Region (Belgium) spoke to us about winning the 8th sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMP) Award, what it means to the city, and shares advice he would give to other cities looking to follow in their footsteps.

What has the reaction been among citizens and stakeholders to the Brussels Capital Region winning the SUMP award? What does winning the SUMP Award mean to the city?

Unfortunately, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment, it is difficult to describe whether a buzz, if there was one, happened. We were all isolated and everything took place remotely - even the announcement of the award itself took place online and we followed it on Twitter.

We would have preferred to receive the award at the ceremony, as it was originally planned - it would have been an opportunity to exchange with the other finalists. However, we received numerous messages of congratulations from many different sectors, including the political world. 

We are obviously very proud to have received this award, especially since we also won it three years ago for our logistics schemes. For those of us who work in the planning department, it's a great reward and confirmation that our approach is relevant and recognised as such.

This is in fact the third SUMP that has been developed for Brussels. The results of the first two are mixed, without taking away their quality. We were all convinced that this one was different and is going to change things - this award is a nice validation of that.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of designing your SUMP? What was it, do you think, that appealed to the Jury?

I would like to quote the words of the jury, which underline the way our SUMP conceives the city as an ecosystem, and the impressive participation system that has been put in place. These two elements, in my opinion, are intimately linked. It is through involving all stakeholders and listening to citizens that we have been able to gradually take into account all the dimensions of the mobility policy.

The system put in place is in fact unprecedented, at least for Brussels, in terms of its scope, its duration and the diversity of the public that we wanted to involve in the approach. It is this process itself that has led us to put aside an overly technical approach to mobility and to refocus on users, their needs, and above all their living environment.

This participatory approach is a key to the success of SUMP and, we hope to its implementation. The overwhelming majority of stakeholders recognise the value of the process, that they were able to express themselves and that they were heard, even if they do not always agree with some of the measures.

What advice would you give to cities that are looking to follow in your footsteps and win the SUMP Award?

Every city and region is different and I do not know to what extent Brussels can be an example. We are in any case open and interested in exchanging with other cities in a more in-depth way. It is also an opportunity to talk about what we have done wrong, which I am not going to discuss here, as after all we just won the SUMP Award!

If I had to give some general advice, first of all I would say that this is a long-term process - more than three years as far as we are concerned, which has to be prepared accordingly. As with all projects that take a long time, we must also accept that there will be changes along the way. The SUMP Guidelines developed by the European Commission are an interesting resource from this point of view. Of course, I say this when we ourselves did not take them into account at all, or rather, when we found out a posteriori that we had unknowingly followed them.

Finally, in order to make a process of this magnitude successful, objectives and a clear guideline are needed. From this point of view, political support, which can be limited to a simple lack of interference, is absolutely essential.

Kruševac, Karditsa and Brussels celebrated in new EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK videos

24 July 2020

Three new videos have been launched showcasing the sustainable mobility activities of the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award winners for 2019, and the winner of the 8th SUMP award. The videos were filmed on location in Kruševac (Serbia), Karditsa (Greece), and Brussels (Belgium) and feature interviews with key mobility experts within the municipalities.

The videos outline how the award-winning cities are working to make sustainable mobility the number one choice for citizens in their respective cities.

Mayor of Kruševac, Jasmina Palurovic, highlights the infrastructural changes the city has made to support an increase in walking and cycling. While, Vasilios Tsiakos, Mayor of Karditsa, discusses why the City considers it important to promote active mobility, and how they are encouraging their residents to make the modal shift from car to bicycle.

Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Mobility, Public Works and Road Safety, Elke Van den Brandt, outlines the mobility challenges the city faces and how their ‘good move’ strategy seeks to overcome them.

Through these videos, viewers are granted a look at the innovative activities and measures that led these cities to win the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK and SUMP Awards.

To view the video on Kruševac, click here.

To view the video on Karditsa, click here.

To view the video on Brussels, click here.

Towns and cities invited to register for Urban Mobility Days 2020

22 July 2020

Registration for Urban Mobility Days 2020, the European Commission’s first large-scale digital urban mobility conference, is now open. The event will take place online from 29 September-02 October under the theme of “zero-emission mobility for all“.

Leading figures from the world of mobility will gather to discuss urgent topics, including: What’s next for urban mobility in the EU? Is the EU a leader in the global urban mobility transition? In the wake of COVID-19, how can cities plan for resilient and sustainable urban mobility? How can MaaS contribute to zero-emission mobility? UVARs - where do we stand?

In addition to these and many other engaging discussions, the conference will feature presentations to discuss results and lessons learnt from various urban mobility projects.

Through its showcasing of leading success stories in the field, the event is also ideal for town and city representatives to learn how to turn the theme of the conference – "zero-emission mobility for all" – into reality.

Urban Mobility Days unites two flagship events in the urban mobility calendar – the CIVITAS Forum Conference and the European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs).

It represents a unique forum for interaction between policymakers, local authorities, academics, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), other mobility practitioners and those putting the SUMP concept into practice.

As mobility can no longer be regarded as merely moving from A to B, Urban Mobility Days will go beyond transport and link zero-emission mobility initiatives with wider EU efforts to tackle climate change and make Europe a carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

For more information, to view the latest programme, and to register to participate in the conference, click here.

European Commission launches public consultation on the future of transport

3 July 2020

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the future of transport to allow both stakeholders and citizens to comment and identify their priorities.

The consultation will be open until 23 September and will enable the Commission to better understand how the EU can help the sector become more sustainable and competitive, more modern and resilient to crises.

Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean said: “We are encouraging our citizens and stakeholders to take part in the public consultation. Mobility is a key priority and our new strategy aims at creating a crisis-proof transport system for us and for the generations to come. We shall start from recovery and build a solid structure on this foundation, fit both for the challenges and advantages of a more digital and green future.”

Transport and mobility play a vital role in the everyday lives of people and businesses. European transport policy is designed to meet their needs, as well as to address climate change and to capitalise on the benefits of digitisation.

In order to best achieve these multiple aims, the European Commission is working on a comprehensive Strategy for a Sustainable and Smart Mobility. The Strategy was announced as part of the European Green Deal, and is scheduled for release before the end of 2020. It will supersede the 2011 Transport White Paper as the European Commission’s vision for transport.

The consultation is available on the ‘Have your say’ portal where citizens and stakeholders are invited to log in and share their feedback and opinions. Access it here and make your voice heard.

An interview with Pontevedra, winner of the first EU Urban Road Safety Award

29 June 2020

Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores, Mayor of the City of Pontevedra (Spain), discusses what winning the first EU Urban Road Safety Award means to the city.

What does winning the 1st EU Urban Road Safety Award mean to the city of Pontevedra?
Winning this award has allowed us to position Pontevedra as a friendly, safe, environmentally friendly city with a high quality of life. The award was of great importance to us because of the prestige associated with being recognised by the European Commission. 

We feared that the significance and relevance of the award might be lost in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures, but the opposite happened. The pandemic has led to a need for large public spaces, which are safe and comfortable enough to keep interpersonal distance. This in turn has led to many cities searching for role models to take inspiration from, and more people talking about sustainable mobility.

What has the reaction been among citizens and stakeholders to winning the award? 
The reaction has been very positive! Our intention was to organise an event for the public and our social partners, but COVID-19 confinement measures prevented us from doing so, just as they prevented the awards ceremony from taking place in Brussels (Belgium).

We were worried that confinement measures, together with the concern over the pandemic, would dilute both the impact of the prize and public reaction to it. However, this wasn’t the case, and the announcement gathered lots of attention in both local, regional and national media outlets, and on social media. 

Pontevedra’s social media networks were filled with a huge number of comments,  with citizens, institutional representatives, and civil society organisations all sharing their congratulations. We also received congratulations and thanks from all the municipal political groups. 

The City of Pontevedra has used a broad array of measures to increase road safety in the city. What has been the most effective measure used? 
All the measures work together and help to achieve the objective of reducing traffic accidents. Road education, vertical and horizontal signage, centralised traffic regulation, disciplinary measures, school roads, rules and regulations, reducing the speed limit to 30 km/h - all of these measures are useful and necessary.

What advice would you give to cities that are looking to follow in your footsteps and win the EU Urban Road Safety Award? 
Cities interested in following in our footsteps should think about making their city safe, about saving lives, about making it easier for children to move around the city autonomously, and about making life easier for the elderly and people with functional diversities. 

They should focus on making their city friendlier, more inclusive, and more cohesive, and should use improved and highly secure public spaces to achieve this. They should strive to reduce the unfair priority given to motorised transport over citizens’ use of the city and public spaces. Cities should consider the drastic reduction of air and noise pollution to be a just cause. 

In short, they should try to put the city and the citizens before the use and abuse of mobility, reversing the priority to reach "first the city, then motorised mobility". It takes courage and much energy to do this, but doing so will greatly improve the quality of life of the city and its inhabitants.  

An interview with Kruševac, winner of the EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK Award 2019 for larger municipalities

26 June 2020

Jelena Nikolić, Advisor for sustainable urban mobility and energy efficiency with the City of Kruševac (Serbia), discusses the city's recent EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award for larger municipalities victory.

What activities did Kruševac undertake to help it win the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award? Were there any activities that you are particularly proud of?

The city has been participating in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, as a golden participant, for several years now. Similar to previous years, last year we worked on improving the attractiveness of public spaces in the city, improving the infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in several locations, expanding the park, installing new pedestrian paths and urban furniture, building a public garage, removing street parking, creating cycle lanes, and turning several traffic light junctions into roundabouts with greenery and sculptures. 

Since 2015, we have started to temporarily close the main street in the city center to motor traffic and open it to people, as a “play street“. In the first year, it was closed every evening during the week of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, and based on the positive reactions of citizens, we applied this measure again, extending the duration every year since. Last year, the street was closed from mid-April to mid-October. Children love it when the street is closed to traffic. This temporary measure impacted the way citizens think about how we use public space and how the city center would look without cars. 

In 2021, we will celebrate the 650th anniversary of the city - to mark the occasion the city center is getting a new look. In preparation for this, we conducted a survey among citizens on how they imagine the future design of the city center to look. After that, we announced a public competition for the development of an architectural-traffic solution. In addition to this, we had activities to promote sustainable mobility, such as city cycling and walking tours. And in order to draw attention to the impact of traffic on the environment, we organised noise level measurements. We are very proud of the fact that year-on-year our team of associates has increased, as well as the number and variety of our activities.

What has the reaction been among citizens and stakeholders to the city winning the award?

We are extremely honored that our activities have been recognised and that we have received the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK  Award 2019 for larger municipalities. The news has attracted great media attention, but also the interest of cities and institutions, not only in Serbia, but also from the wider Balkan region. 

We were congratulated by various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Infrastructure. The award did not come out of nowhere - we have been organising this event for many years, and Kruševac was shortlisted for the Award in 2016. Once the pandemic is over and the circumstances allows, we plan to organise an event to celebrate winning the award with everyone who contributed to its success.

What does winning the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award mean to the city?

For several years now, the city has been working to improve walking and cycling infrastructure, accessibility for people with disabilities, and the attractiveness and safety of public spaces - through the improvement and expansion of parks and squares. Squares have always been meeting places and that is why we should continue with these investments, which affect the liveliness of the city, and increase the quality of life. 

Irrespective of the size of the measures, it is important to work on them constantly. This award provides good encouragement to continue our work, because our efforts have been recognised. Kruševac is a pioneer in Serbia on this topic, because it is the first city to adopt a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP). And not only do we have the plan, we are also acting on it - implementing measures to improve the quality of life in the city. Winning this award provides us with a good indication that we are on the right track, and we hope our success inspires other cities to follow our example.

What are the benefits of taking part in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK for your city?

EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK is like a one-week festival in our city, which, in addition to promoting permanent sustainable mobility measures, consists of various daily activities for all ages. It provides a good opportunity to highlight the use of public space for sustainable modes of transport and to reconsider everyday mobility habits. It also provides local residents with an opportunity to comment on our work in an informal way. We often forget that we are all pedestrians, and the fact that walking is beneficial to both our health and the environment - EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK provides a good opportunity to remind us of those facts.

What advice would you give to cities that are looking to take home the

It is necessary to have a team of varied stakeholders, in order to design interesting activities for different age groups. Special attention should be paid to vulnerable groups, and those who may have difficulty in moving around the city. Through involving them in the event, you give them visibility and can reassure them that their needs will be met. 

We designed activities and included Associations of Persons with Disabilities, Associations of people with Diabetes (active mobility is very important for them), senior citizens, and children. Last year, for the first time, we used the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign mascot, which was invaluable and attracted the attention of citizens of all ages. And of course, last but not least, you need to have the support of sponsors, to make the activities more attractive, and to ensure good media coverage and promotion of activities, so that those who may have missed the event will take part next time.

An interview with Karditsa, winner of the EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK Award 2019 for smaller municipalities

26 June 2020

Natalia Tzellou, Head of the Department of Development Planning of Directorate of Development Planning, Information & Transparency, Municipality of Karditsa (Greece), discusses the city's recent EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award for smaller municipalities victory

What activities did Karditsa undertake to help it win the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award? Were there any activities that you are particularly proud of?
During EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2019, we organised numerous activities for citizens of all the ages, with special attention paid to people with disabilities. Every morning during the week of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, we carried out educational activities at schools across the city, and in the afternoons, we organised many recreational activities at different venues across the city.

In addition, we partnered with dozens of organisations including schools, music academies, government departments, police, fire brigade, civil society organisations and businesses, all of which were invited to participate in a festive week of mobility celebrations. Other initiatives included financial benefits for companies introducing sustainable mobility measures and days off work for employees who commuted by bicycle or on foot – to show that safe walking and cycling are appealing for reasons beyond health and well-being.

What has the reaction been among citizens and stakeholders to Karditsa winning the award?
The citizens of Karditsa were very happy to hear the good news and felt great satisfaction that out of the 3,135 other European Municipalities who participated in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2019, a small municipality like Karditsa, could take home the first place position! We all are very proud to have won the award and our work is not going to stop here! Over the coming years, we are going to work much harder to promote sustainable mobility.

What does winning the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award for smaller municipalities mean to the city?
Winning the award is a great distinction for our city! The award is very prestigious and has a strong reputation across Europe. Securing the first place prize makes our city and Municipality stand out in Europe, and highlights its advantages in Europe. This award recognises and rewards all the projects and measures we have undertaken to promote sustainable mobility in our city. But at the same time, it encourages us to work harder to promote sustainable mobility further in the city and to implement new permanent measures, in order to make our city accessible to all, to reduce the number of cars, and to provide more sustainable means of transport.

Over the next three years, we have planned to construct new infrastructure, such as bicycle paths, and pedestrian crossings for disabled people at roads and at schools. In addition, we have plans to redesign many squares and central roads in the city. By next spring, we are going to upgrade the existing bike sharing scheme and supply 23 electric bicycles, 2 electric bicycles for disabled people, and 9 electric cargo bikes. Four of these will be placed at the bus and rail station to ensure travelers’ mixed transportation needs are met. The rest will be used in a pilot programme for free haulage in the city center.

By August, we are going to permanently reduce the speed limit in the city from 50 km/h to 30 km/h. The Mayor of Karditsa, Vasileios Tsiakos, is very supportive of new ideas and suggestions. This is one of the reasons why Karditsa won the award, and it encourages us to make our Municipality a role model and to raise its ambitions and reputation even higher in the future.

What are the benefits of taking part in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK for smaller cities?
Through participating in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, we have learned and found new ways to make our lives better and every year have implemented new permanent measures that help to promote sustainable mobility and improve the quality of the environment. EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK acts as a strong motivation to do all of this.

What advice would you give to smaller cities that are looking to follow in your footsteps and take home the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award?
To cities that are looking to follow in our footsteps, we would encourage them to try hard during the whole year and not just during the week of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK itself. Equally, we would encourage them to take steps to improve the quality of life of their citizens’ and also of visitors to the city. The city needs to have a dream and goals, as we did, and needs to try to make them a reality. They need to work as a strong team - sometimes even working day and night, in order to succeed.

Kruševac, Karditsa, Brussels and Pontevedra win European sustainable mobility awards

18 May 2020

The European Commission has announced the winners of four sustainable mobility awards.

Kruševac (Serbia) was revealed as the winner of the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2019, with Karditsa (Greece) taking home the award for smaller municipalities. The 8th SUMP Award was won by Brussels Capital Region (Belgium), and the 1st EU Urban Road Safety Award went to Pontevedra (Spain).
Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean said: “I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the winning cities – your actions are powerful examples illustrating the leading role local leaders can play in making our cities cleaner, safer, and more sustainable. I hope this can serve as inspiration for towns and cities who are rethinking their mobility strategies, not least in the wake of the current pandemic.”
Kruševac, Serbia – winner of the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2019 for larger municipalities
The Serbian city of Kruševac impressed the jury with its wide range of activities, underpinned by strong citizen participation and political support from the local government. Even the mayor was ‘walking the walk’, coming to work by foot to help spread this year’s mobility message. During EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2019, the city streets enjoyed a new burst of life without cars, not only in the centre – which was taken over by pedestrians – but also in the suburbs, where people organised a variety of activities. The face of the city was also transformed, with the installation of new cycle paths, walkways, public squares, urban parks, benches and even swings.
The other finalists are Rethymno (Greece) and Wrocław (Poland).
Karditsa, Greece – winner of the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2019 for smaller municipalities
Karditsa impressed the jury with its use of promotional materials and partnerships to support sustainable mobility. During EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2019, the city partnered with dozens of organisations including schools, music academies, government departments, police, fire brigade, civil society organisations and businesses, all of which were invited to participate in a festive week of mobility celebrations. Other initiatives included financial benefits for companies introducing sustainable mobility measures and days off work for employees who commuted by bicycle or on foot – to show that safe walking and cycling are appealing for reasons beyond health and wellbeing.
The other finalists are Alfândega da Fé (Portugal) and Paide (Estonia).
Brussels Capital Region, Belgium – winner of the 8th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP)
Brussels Capital Region has set itself clear and ambitious sustainable mobility goals, which include having zero road traffic deaths by 2030, restricting car usage, reducing the speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour by 2021, and increasing the number of pedestrianised zones. The jury was particularly impressed by its approach to reaching these goals, which sees the city as an ‘ecosystem’. The city’s achievements are underpinned by strong stakeholder outreach, impressive citizen participation, and the implementation of “superblocks”, an innovative urban planning concept.
The other finalists are Kaunas (Lithuania) and Wrocław (Poland).
Pontevedra, Spain – winner of the first EU Urban Road Safety Award
Pontevedra reduced road fatalities in the city consistently since 1999, impressively achieving zero road deaths between 2011 and 2018. A host of measures ensure that safety and sustainability go hand-in-hand. The city used a clear and careful monitoring strategy to identify which policies are effective and which need to be updated, resulting in increased active mobility, such as walking and cycling: In Pontevedra, 80% of children aged 6-12 walk to school by themselves. The jury was impressed by Pontevedra’s use of a broad array of measures, including reducing speed limits to 10-30 km/h and creating more public spaces that are attractive for pedestrians.

The other finalists are Jaworzno (Poland) and Ordu (Turkey).

European Commission releases COVID-19 related guidance on urban mobility

18 May 2020

The European Commission has released guidance on how to safely resume travel and tourism as COVID-19 restrictions begin to soften. As part of this, the Commission is encouraging and supporting the progress of new urban mobility solutions, such as extending pavements and bicycle paths or even adapting timetables.

Even though public transport has continued to run in many cities, measures to ensure safety will be necessary as passenger numbers begin to rise. These include:

  • Upholding safe minimum distancing;
  • Minimising contact between drivers and passengers;
  • Increasing and adapting operational frequency;
  • Using automatic or driver operated doors to avoid passengers touching door handles;
  • Optimising passenger flows to avoid overcrowding.

Communication of measures taken is essential to enable smooth execution and reassure citizens. Campaigns such as ‘stand on stickers’ have proven to be successful. These measures could fall outside the remit of public transport so consultation with health authorities and stakeholder will be necessary. The costs could be combined into public service contracts.

Shared mobility companies should help protect users from infection. Rental vehicles should be thoroughly cleaned on return, whilst shared vehicles should be cleaned at least once every day of use. Station based services such as shared bicycles should be cleaned more regularly. E-scooters and e-bikes should be clean at least after every battery charge.

Temporary enlargements of pavements and bicycle lanes will help make active mobility users stay safe. Reducing speed limits of vehicles in heavy traffic areas will also help.

Platforms for sharing best practices are available but should still be developed further. The Commission is planning to gather Member States, local authorities and urban mobility stakeholders to analyse the impacts of COVID-19 and guide future sustainable mobility solutions in the EU.

Read the "COVID-19: Guidelines on the progressive restoration of transport services and connectivity" here.

Registration for EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK 2020 now open

18 May 2020

Towns and cities across Europe and further afield can now register their participation in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2020.

The annual campaign, which takes place from 16-22 September each year, is organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport and seeks to improve quality of life through promoting clean mobility and sustainable urban transport. This year’s campaign puts the spotlight on ‘zero emission mobility for all’. For more information about this year's theme, take a look at our Thematic Guidelines.

To respond to the uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, registration by towns and cities this year has maximum flexibility to cover events and measures as usual, or online alternatives and all innovative COVID-19 transport solutions, with no obligation to select any of the three options – holding a week of activities focused on sustainable mobility, implementing one or more permanent transport measures, or holding a ‘Car-Free-Day’

Last year’s EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK saw a record-breaking 3,135 towns and cities from 50 countries take part in the campaign.

Businesses, NGOs, schools and other actors, including cities, who want to get involved in the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign are also invited to register their MOBILITYACTION online.

A MOBILITYACTION is any action that promotes the idea of sustainable urban mobility. It can be limited to a specific day or last for several weeks/months and can take place at any moment of the year.

For more information and to register for EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2020, click here