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The 16th annual EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK kicks off on September 16, 2017. 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/. Almost 2,500 cities from over 50 countries participated in 2016 c a record year! — and those who've already registered can be seen here. Encouragingly, the campaign is being picked up around the world and beyond Europe's shores, with North America, South America, Africa and Asia getting involved.
What is particularly exciting about EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 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, as Malmo clearly demonstrated in winning the 2016 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award. Also, by giving the action a "MOBILITYWEEK" label, the city administration improves its citizens' quality of life, while at the same time showing solidarity with other urban centres that are part of the European Commission initiative. Besides realsing 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 2017 campaign theme "Clean, Shared and Intelligent Mobility", looks very much to the future, but clearly puts the accent on sharing with the supporting tagline #sharinggetsyoufurther. While the campaign lends support to the European Commission’s "Cooperative-Intelligent Transport Systems" strategy (from November 2016) and "Decarbonisation" strategy (July 2016) for low-emission mobility, the onus is on shared mobility, through:
- use rather than ownership;
- lowering both individual and societal cost; and
- sharing journeys, transport modes (e.g. car, bike, vans etc.) and infrastructure;
all of which is facilitated by an intermediate "sharing" platform (e.g. website or app, popularised now as MaaS or "Mobility as a Service").
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 cafes 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.
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. If you are a town or a city, please sign up! And if you have an action outside the week or are not a municipal administration, why not consider registering your MOBILITYACTION instead, which entitles you to still use the MOBILITYWEEK label?
Naturally, experimental 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 experiences are described in the Best Practice Guide series available here. Among the keys to success are citizen dialogue, scientific data and political champions. EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK offers a great opportunity to identify who your allies really are and celebrate together.
For cities keen to get involved in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, Thematic Guidelines are available, while national coordinators across Europe stand ready to assist. All are listed at the initiative's website.