European Commission pushes for more active travel, public transport and road safety in cities

  • December 21, 2021

A new ‘urban policy initiative’ from the European Commission will seek to encourage towns and cities in the EU to move towards a more sustainable balance of transport modes, encouraging walking, cycling and public transport and with better monitoring of modal split as well as road injuries and deaths.  ETSC welcomes these intentions but questions whether enough is being done at EU level to help cut road deaths and injuries by 50% by 2030 – the EU’s agreed target.  72% of the population of the EU lives in cities, so tackling urban road safety is critical to achieving the target. The new urban policy initiative has little to say on managing inappropriate speed, for example, which is a primary or contributing factor in many road deaths in urban areas.

The Commission’s strategy is largely based on the concept of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs), a concept that has been running for several years, whereby the Commission provides guidance and a framework for cities that want to map out how they can improve urban mobility, the environment and road safety.  Under the new proposals, the Commission wants to extend that measure, by requiring hundreds of cities that sit on the main European road links, known as TEN-T roads, to develop a SUMP.

The Commission has also developed guidance under the SUMP framework to help cities plan for the rollout of e-scooters, a fast growing transport mode in recent years.

Ellen Townsend, Policy Director at ETSC commented:

“The principles guiding the Commission’s approach to urban policy are the right ones, and there is evidence that SUMPs do lead to the right changes.  However, the Commission should and could have gone further with more specific measures.”