As world leaders gather in Glasgow to discuss how to intensify the fight against climate change, cities are already taking bold steps.
Sixty-five per cent of large municipalities have upwardly revised their climate targets, setting more ambitious goals after the launch of the European Green Deal and the adoption of the EU Climate Law, according to interim survey results collected by Eurocities. Mobility is also one of the many instruments for cities to introduce environmentally-friendly measures while improving citizens’ health, living conditions and cohesion.
And actions to promote urban mobility are already bringing visible results. In London, authorities have recently extended the ultra-low emission zone to tackle air quality issues, allowing drivers to get rid of diesel cars six times faster than the rest of the UK. In Bilbao, the entry into force of a 30km/h speed limit on most of the city’s streets has reduced road accidents by 22.9% between 2019 and 2020.
By the end of 2021, the European Commission is set to unveil its ‘Efficient & Green Mobility Package’, providing municipalities with the tools to introduce safer, more sustainable and affordable mobility models. To ensure that cities can make the most out of this new tool, a Eurocities policy statement provides key recommendations to EU policymakers to bring urban mobility to the next level. This includes:
- Recognise cities’ strategic role in major transport infrastructures
Cities are often located at focal transport points of major European transport infrastructures known as Trans-European Transport Network, without necessarily having a seat at the table when investment decisions are made. Whenever long-haul transport and local mobility are not aligned, it is bound to create transport disruptions. A better representation of cities in the governance of major infrastructures should be a priority for EU authorities. Recognising cities as strategic nodes and providing them with the right tools to integrate long-haul transport into urban mobility planning will also help avoid bottlenecks in the future.
- Public transport & active mobility
Public transport and active mobility are key allies to improve cities’ sustainability and liveability. They should be put at the core of the next European framework for urban mobility, securing the supply of reliable and affordable alternatives to private cars. The Eurocities paper calls for a dedicated EU action plan to support active mobility and measures to foster public transport’s green and digital transition.
- Investing in behavioural change
Relying on cleaner vehicles will not be enough to reduce all the negative effects of traditional transport. Traffic jams, stress and noise will continue to plague cities unless new measures are introduced. Low emission zones, street pedestrianisation and reduced public transport fares are among the tools local authorities may adopt to make urban mobility more sustainable. The Eurocities paper asks policymakers to provide cities with the right instruments to influence transport behaviour further, including new road safety measures for vulnerable road users, research in transport behaviour and alternative ways to move goods in cities.
- Looking back at the last 20 months
The Covid-19 pandemic has harshly shaken urban mobility ecosystems due to new consumption or transport patterns. In Madrid, for example, authorities have recorded a 90% reduction in the use of public transport during the health crisis; cycling, meanwhile, has boomed in many European cities. Eurocities’ members call on the European Commission to assess the impact of the global pandemic on urban mobility and draw lessons from it that can shed new light and contribute to envisioning a new pathway to take sustainable urban mobility to the next level.