The European Mobility Week 2012

The question of how we can make urban and business mobility more eco-friendly and sustainable has been a revolving matter of societal interest particularly in this past decade. This is not a surprise seeing that roughly a quarter of Europe’s total carbon emission is directly caused by motorised vehicles in cities and urban centres.[1] Tackling this issue, the European Union (EU) and the European Commission (EC) started its first European Mobility Week in 2002. Over the years, it has become the worldwide largest campaign to boost the reduction of traffic congestion and advertise the creation of more pleasant and healthy environments by finding feasible mobility solutions for urban citizens. This year, the annual event, held from the 16th until the 22nd of September, features 1272 participating cities from all across Europe. Last year a whopping 227 million citizens actively contributed to the European Mobility Week. Under this year’s motto “Moving in the right direction”[2] local authorities and companies organise activities and initiatives for their citizens to reflect upon the role of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs). The size of the city thereby doesn’t matter.

Sustainable Mobility Solutions

The foundation of The European Mobility Week is the willingness of citizens to change their urban environment and mobility habits for the future. According to this year’s thematic guidelines (set out by EC) “a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) defines a set of interrelated measures designed to satisfy the mobility needs of people and businesses in the short and long term”.[3] A SUMP then serves as a guide for local authorities and companies to get an idea of how to find solutions to urban mobility problems. So what kind of initiatives and projects can we expect? Firstly, every applicant must assure to arrange a so-called “In town without my car” event as one of the many activities to be held in that week. Being an application requirement, this highlights the importance of shifting away from cars towards other forms of urban mobility. The “In town without my car” event is sort of the grand finale of the European Mobility Week. Furthermore, the EC has published a list of ideas, which displays a profound focus on alternative mobility and anti car ownership: “Improve the cycling infrastructure, set up a car sharing scheme, offer public bikes, and install charging infrastructures for electric vehicles”[4] are among the suggestions to initiate the movement towards more sustainable urban living. And yes, these ideas are anything but far-fetched aims neither are they of particular creativity or imaginative inventiveness. Yet, this is only a minor drawback if at all seeing that many of these ideas have already been successfully implemented in many cities and proven to be sustainable and eco-friendly in mobility.

Everyone must contribute

With the SUMPs, this year’s European Mobility Week is special in that there’s an emphasis on realising large-scale projects making a long-term difference. Of course the campaign still officially remains one week. However cities are in a different stage of implementing these long-term goals. Thus the European Mobility Week becomes more of a collaborative effort for sustainability rather than a competition with one smiling winner in the end. And this we think should be the philosophy of such an amazing project. You can find more information about the European Mobility Week here: http://www.mobilityweek.eu/

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