What should a sustainable mobility policy be based on?

As part of our project, we defined nine most important success factors for the sustainable mobility policy:

  • Formulating acceptable, specific and measurable strategic goals

This is the basis of a sustainable mobility policy. The goals have to result from the diagnosis of needs and opportunities in a given city and not be “prescribed”, unrealistic or generic goals of a sustainable mobility policy introduced at the EU or national level. Goals of the policy should be defined as effects and not expenditures. This is an issue often concerning local governments, which treat “purchase of electric buses” or “construction of a tram line” as goals. These are only common measures to achieve the goal, but an appropriately set goal is needed to assess, whether in a given case the measures taken are optimal and complete, creating an effective and efficient intervention logic.

  • Developing a specific intervention logic to achieve the goal

“We will be young and beautiful, but we don’t know how to reach this goal” is a common issue of urban development strategies. The intervention logic has to be based on realistically defined barriers and motivators of transport behaviour. Numerous limitations in spatial, environmental, organisational and financial resources are often not taken into account.

  • Accurate assessment and selection of the proposed actions

Avoid overly broad goals – public policy is the art of choosing priorities rather than creating a one-fits-all document. Actions included in strategies should be selected from among the possible solutions. After evaluating them, it is possible to determine which will best contribute to the development of sustainable mobility in given area. Actions are currently often placed in strategies with the attitude that additional resources for their implementation may be found in some time. This may lead to the mutually exclusive effects of investments in e.g. both the road network and public transport, without being aware of the increase in operating costs of both transport systems and no change in the way people use transport.

  • Including relations with spatial planning

Shaping urban mobility should go hand in hand with spatial planning. When building a new housing estate, parking spaces are often arranged very close to the buildings, but the estate is not planned to be serviced by public transport. It often ends with placement of communication stops far from the estate, at the main thoroughfares in the city. Low accessibility to stops discourages residents from using public transport, encouraging them to use their own car parked right next to their apartment.

  • Planning of interventions on a scale adequate to scale of travels

Diagnosis of the state of mobility in a functional area, both quantitative and qualitative, allows to plan an adequate scale of intervention. Actions should be aimed at solving greatest transport problems, while at the same time active measures should be taken to change the attitude of residents in order to prevent potential future problems. At the same time, intervention should be considered both in terms of commuting to work and schools, but also for other purposes: entertainment, culture, health, etc.

  • Ensuring good financing for environmentally friendly means of transport

The key to functioning of sustainable mobility is its appropriate ongoing financing, in particular concerning public transport. Unfortunately, many transport strategies focus on long-term infrastructure investments (which often even contribute to individual transport) to a greater extent than on current financing of the transport system. Large capacity and frequency of public transport in rush hours is a more important factor to encourage its use than new rolling stock and possibility of charging a phone via USB.

  • Finding innovative solutions, utilising the benefits of digitisation

An important factor of intervention is also its modernity and creation of competitive services needs to be supported by ‘digital’ actions. This may include applications that comprehensively facilitate travel (also during traffic disruptions). It should be emphasized that competitiveness of individual transport in this field has significantly improved in recent years.

  • Building residents’ awareness of environmentally friendly means of transport

Digitisation should also be accompanied by appropriate marketing communication – while bicycle transport generally has a positive image and is associated with active people, public transport struggles with serious burdens in residents’ opinion (seen as slow, overcrowded, intended for people with lower income), which has to be fought and counteracted with adequate actions.

  • Mobility policy conducted by appropriately empowered team and leader

Activity of ‘bicycle officers’ and their cooperation with NGOs is one of the elements positively contributing to the image of bicycle transport. This clearly indicates an important issue within the entire sustainable mobility policies in cities – often the lack of a mobility leader, as well as teams that are numerically and competently adequate to the scale of challenges.