Cities and towns in Europe and beyond are coming alive with hundreds of mobility initiatives as part of European Mobility Week, the European Commission’s event running from 16 to 22 September.
Since 2002, European Mobility Week has been raising awareness of sustainable mobility, advocating how active and inclusive transport can be a winning formula for both citizens and the planet. Fostering citizens’ involvement, the event allows people to try out sustainable mobility solutions and see how they can apply to their own lives.
For municipalities, the campaign is a creative opportunity to reach out to residents and combine fun with environmental awareness. “Every city has its specificities, and the best solutions are the ones that best serve the city’s inhabitants,” Adina Vălean, the European Commissioner for Transport said, going on to thank four towns and cities from war-torn Ukraine for their participation this year.
Children and young adults feature prominently in all European Mobility Week activities, a further sign that municipalities and campaigners rely on the younger generations to make change a reality.
This latest edition coincides with the 2022 European Year of Youth which celebrates and seeks young people’s involvement to carve a greener, more inclusive and digital future.
In its 21 years, European Mobility Week has outdone itself – today the event boasts the engagement of some 3,000 municipalities from over 50 countries in Europe and in far-flung places like Japan, Argentina, Costa Rica and Ecuador. They will all rally around ‘Better Connections,’ the 2022 slogan highlighting how strong links between people and places can prompt behavioural change and foster a ‘green transport’ shift.
The goal is to showcase the multifaceted aspects of zero-emission mobility, how cooperation involving people, places, packages, planning and policy can improve people’s transport experiences.
Better connection and synergies can also provide climate-friendly solutions to emerging trends. Take the expansion of online shopping: by fostering an alliance between private and public operators, cities can encourage carbon-free package deliveries on two-wheels and offer a viable green alternative to gas-guzzling delivery vans.
Over the past two decades, Eurocities has been European Mobility Week’s campaign coordinator. “Our network is the bridge between the European Commission, our member cities and all other towns and cities taking part in the campaign,” said Juan Caballero, European Mobility Week’s Campaign Manager. “We have spent the past year helping local campaigners to get ready for the big moment this week and to foster better connections,” Caballero added.
Against the background of today’s energy crisis, fostering better connections will also put a spotlight on green mobility: how it can help Europe to wean itself off Russian gas and how the reduction of fuel consumption in transport can advance the goals of the European Commission’s REPowerEU – the plan to cut the EU’s fossil fuel dependency through energy saving.
European Mobility Week will reach its peak with the much-awaited World Car-Free Day, when participating cities will ban private vehicles and reserve their roads for people on foot, on a bike, e-scooter and on public transport.
Mobility is about fun
In the Belgian city of Ghent, on 16 September, dozens of schools will close nearby streets to traffic to allow students to cycle or walk to their classes.
In Italy, Bologna will launch its ‘pedibus’ scheme again, an initiative that sees an adult escorting a group of children on their walk to school as an alternative to car drop-offs. This year, the city will brim with activities, including a competition to find the fastest means of transport to reach the workplace, an urban trekking trip cutting through green areas, and educational cycling paths for children.
On 18 September, Turin has a royal surprise in store: a cycling trip to the magnificent Venaria Reale, a 17th-century estate built by Italy’s former royal family. On the same day, women activists will gather for the ‘Fancy Women Bike Ride’ to reclaim their right to use the street as a space to live and celebrate their freedom and independence.
In Tirana, children will take part in a role-playing game: they will act as drivers, passengers or ticket collectors in a ludic exercise to raise awareness about themes such as safety, proper behaviour on public transport and the importance of purchasing a ticket.
A ‘Mobility Fair’ will be one of European Mobility Week’s highlights in Lisbon – the initiative will allow residents to travel by e-scooters and bicycle, check out the local public transport system as well as eat something delicious at participating food stands. The Portuguese capital’s programme also includes events promoting zero-emission deliveries, encouraging employees to cycle to work and raising road safety awareness.