A vision of free-flowing traffic and greener cities is at the heart of the new Green Paper on urban mobility adopted by the European Commission on 25 September.
Entitled ‘Towards a new culture for urban mobility’, the document is designed to help the Commission identify obstacles to successful urban mobility and devise ways to overcome them. It sets
out a European agenda for urban mobility that nevertheless respects the responsibilities of local, regional and national authorities in the field. The paper puts a strong emphasis on how
research can contribute to meeting the EU’s transport goals.
‘European cities are different but they share similar challenges: congestion, climate change, pollution, safety,’ said EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot. ‘The Green Paper will focus
European attention on the urban dimension of transport policy and put the spotlights on innovative policies which pioneering cities throughout Europe are putting in place. My purpose is to find
out what Europe can do to support those policies.’
The paper, which was drawn up following an extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders, lists five key challenges that urban transport systems need to address, namely congestion,
environmental issues, transport infrastructures, accessibility and safety.
For each theme, the Commission sets out options as to how the issue could be tackled. Research has a role to play in many of the fields mentioned. For example, intelligent transport systems
(ITS) could help to reduce congestion and increase the capacity of transport infrastructures by improving traffic management and trip planning.
Technology can also help to reduce the environmental impact of transport systems. ‘Research and technological development co-funded by the EU has had a strong focus on clean and
energy-efficient vehicle technologies and alternative fuels, such as biofuels, hydrogen and fuel cells,’ the paper reads.
Innovation in this field could be boosted by green public procurement policies, the Commission suggests.
The section of the paper on safety also highlights the role of technology, noting that ‘technologies such as night vision, break assistant, collision avoidance and sleep warning can make a
difference to the safety of all street users’.
In the Green Paper, the Commission points out that many of these research activities could be funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), whose Transport theme has an activity area
dedicated to ‘Ensuring sustainable urban mobility’.
This area covers technical research, demonstration and policy support in the area of new transport and mobility concepts, innovative demand management schemes, high quality public transport,
and innovative strategies for clean urban transport. The ICT theme of FP7 also has funding for mobility related activities.
In addition to funding research, the EU could provide ‘added value’ in the field of urban mobility by promoting the sharing of best practice, boosting coordination and interoperability and
simplifying relevant legislation.
Stakeholders are now invited to submit their opinions on the issues raised in the Green Paper to the Commission. This consultation phase will remain open until 15 March 2008. In early Autumn
2008 the Commission will release an Action Plan on Urban Mobility which will propose concrete actions at the EU, national, regional and local levels.
For more information, please visit:
Transport research under FP7: