The 14th annual European Mobility Week kicks off across the continent on September 16. This is a week-long campaign in European towns and cities that traditionally concludes with the 'In Town without My Car' day, to be held this year on September 22.
The initiative works to encourage a modal shift from individual car use to more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling, walking or public transport. Towns and cities are invited to register their actions at the initiative's website: http://www.mobilityweek.eu/. Some 2,000 cities from over 40 countries typically participate, and those who've already registered can be seen here. Encouragingly, the campaign is being picked up around the world, with Japan and South Korea spearheading the campaign beyond Europe's shores.
What is particularly exciting about European Mobility Week is that it gives participating towns and cities the opportunity to experiment with sustainable mobility initiatives that may have the potential to evolve into permanent measures-for example, closing a city centre street, reducing the speed limit, or introducing a low emission zone. Also, by giving the action a mobility week 'label,' the city administration improves its citizens' quality of life while at the same time showing solidarity with other urban centres as part of a Europe-wide European Commission initiative. Besides cleaner air and safer streets, the week is also an opportunity to engage with and listen to citizens-and, of course, to promote sustainable mobility.
The 2015 campaign theme ‘Choose. Change. Combine,’ under the monicker #dotherightmix, puts the accent on multi-modality. That means thinking about taking different modes of transport for different trips, or even mixing travel modes within the same trip. For instance, riding a bike, sharing a ride, walking and so on.
Actions to take place during this year's week include the conversion of car-parking spaces into mini parks (especially during Park(ing) Day on September 19) and the transition of streets and thoroughfares into spaces for cafés and al fresco dining. New pedestrian and bike infrastructure will also be launched, towns and cities will assist with plans for travelling to the workplace or school, and city walks and bike tours will reintroduce citizens to their urban environments and foster community spirit. Car-sharing and car-pooling schemes will also receive welcome visibility during the week. And who hasn’t heard of ‘Park & Ride’ but what about ‘Kiss & Ride, ‘Pool & Ride,’ ‘Bike & Ride’ or ‘Telebus & ride’?
A number of towns and cities will also experiment with long-term solutions, including 'Traffic Evaporation', which involves access restriction schemes and improved public transport services. Details on the activities to be implemented across Europe's cities can be seen here.
Naturally, such measures do not always achieve immediate success, and challenges often arise owing to objections from diverse groups, ranging from car drivers, the media and downtown retailers. But the many cities who have made their mobility measures permanent can provide valuable inspiration for those just setting out, and some of their experiencers are described in the Best Practice Guide series available here. Among the keys to success are citizen dialogue, scientific data and political champions. European Mobility Week offers a great opportunity to identify who your allies really are and celebrate together.Eurocities, and is co-hosted by the REC together with ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.