For several years now, increasing importance has been attached to active mobility which refers to means of transport that rely entirely on muscle strength, for example cycling, walking or riding a pedal-scooter. These are good for people’s health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby counteract climate change.
Active mobility also supports transport planning ambitions. Walking and cycling are space efficient, flexible and cause low individual and societal costs. These modes of transport in combination with public transport, can cover almost all mobility needs. Increased active mobility can thus help to mitigate the adverse effects caused by motorised private vehicles, especially in urban areas. Common transport-related and environmental problems include safety, congestion, climate change, air pollution, noise and land consumptions.
Additionally, from the urban and city planning perspective, increased levels of active mobility provide a promising outlook, as this increase allows for less space consuming transport systems with lower speeds. This opens various opportunities for designing more attractive, inclusive and livable cities.
The ambitions as well as the strategies for increasing active mobility differ substantially between the disciplines of transport planning, urban planning and public health, but, at the same time, they have a strong overlap in the objective to foster active mobility. However, despite this common interest in active mobility, efforts thus far have been primarily individual rather than collaborative. Substantial synergies could be harnessed by better coordinating activities, as well as by combining approaches for promoting active mobility from the various disciplines, and by pooling financial and personnel resources. Increased walking and cycling volumes yield various environmental, social, and economic benefits. These key factors contribute to the functioning of cities and support sustainable urban development.
Given these ambitions, the first challenge identified by the cities pose the following questions:
How to promote the use of active mobility (mainly bicycle) to get around the city, in combination or not with public transport? How to make these personal mobility vehicles more accessible and adapted to citizens? How to make bicycle transit safer in the city? How to make the parking lot of these more secure to avoid robberies or provide other services? How to promote local commerce as a way of promoting the use of active mobility to the detriment of the use of private cars?
The transport sector is responsible for major parts of the overall greenhouse gas emissions with no substantial reductions thus far. Reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in transport might be more expensive as compared to other sectors, but effective climate protection will not be possible without this sector.
Since 2014, greenhouse gas emissions from the EU-28 transport sector (including international aviation but excluding international shipping) have been increasing. In comparison with 2016, emissions in 2017 had increased by 2.2 %, mainly on account of higher emissions from road transport, followed by aviation. In 2017, transport (including aviation and shipping) was responsible for 27 % of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-28. This figure drops to 22 % if international shipping is excluded. EEA estimates show that emissions from transport (including aviation) increased by 0.7 % in 2018.
The EU’s domestic transport emissions increased by 0.8% between 2018 and 2019. According to preliminary estimates, they dropped by 12.7% in 2020, because of the drastic decrease in transport activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. For comparison, in the years following the economic crisis a decade ago, emissions decreased by 1-3% per year.
Road transport constitutes the highest proportion of overall transport emissions (in 2019 it emitted 72% of all domestic and international transport GHG). As a majority of existing and planned measures in the Member States focus on road transport, this share is expected to decrease as road transport decarbonises faster than other transport modes.
Emissions from transport need to lower by around two thirds by 2050 (base year 1990) in order to meet the long-term 60 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction target set in the 2011 White Paper on transport of the European Commission.
Given these ambitions, the second challenge identified by the cities pose the following questions:
How to reduce and disincentivize the use of the private car to enter and/or move around the city? How to reduce the number of cars entering cities? How to promote the use of electric mobility? How to encourage the use of public transport and mobility as a service to the detriment of the use of private cars?