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How to ... rethink healthy mobility for all in a thriving city

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A SUMP Topic Guide on planning for sustainable and resilient cities in times of crisis, good practice exchange on tender criteria to allow prioritisation of local companies, research and map out different needs of different stakeholders for teleworking and understand changes to regulations.

These are just some of the key actions Eurocities members identified in our second workshop in the ‘Healthy, thriving and inclusive cities’ series.

By tackling those mobility challenges highlighted through the pandemic – from more space for pedestrians and cyclists to changing travel patterns and a refocus on the need to decarbonise our transport systems – this new workshop series aims to broaden experience among Eurocities members and urban experts, for a new and ‘better normal’.

So how can we rethink our planning for healthy mobility for all?

What lessons can we learn from our experience of fast-tracked mobility planning procedures during the crisis?

The establishment of a SUMP guide on planning in times of crisis, capacity building on agile planning and scenario planning, and links between SUMPs and funding. These are all key to capitalising on the lessons learnt from our experience of fast-tracked experiences through the pandemic.

We’ve all had to learn and adapt very fast since the pandemic hit, explained Ben Brisbourne and David Wills from Transport for Greater Manchester. To capitalise on these learnings, cities will have the opportunity to contribute to a new SUMP topic guide on planning for sustainable and resilient cities in times of crisis. In 2021, we will investigate the possibility of organising workshops to share our collective insights on agile and scenario planning.

How can we capitalise on public procurement to ensure that the transport decarbonisation transition is not endangered by the crisis?

Compile good practices for tender criteria that permit prioritisation of local companies, exchange on solutions to legal aspects on zero-emission zones, and build more public procurement consortiums! These actions are key to pushing ahead with the decarbonisation of our transport systems.

It’s unfortunate that some EU competition regulations are counter-productive to limiting transport-associated carbon emissions, but this is the case, explained Geir Rossebø from Oslo. There are steps you can take as a city to develop criteria in tenders which prioritise local companies, we just need to compile these together and make others aware of them. Other EU regulations are problematic when it comes to zero-emission zones, we should share ideas for addressing this.

Overall, working together is always best. Our cumulative power can change markets, we’ve seen this already with heavy-duty Electric Vehicles, circular construction materials and zero-emission construction sites through the Big Buyers Initiative. We should build more consortiums for public procurement.

How should we rethink our planning for commuters in light of increased teleworking?

Research, research, research. This is such a new area, it’s hard to understand what long-term impact teleworking will have on our travel patterns. So, let’s share knowledge, said Eurocities members, and focus on increasing our understanding of how teleworking could work for employers, employees and transport operators.

We can learn so much from each other. Building partnerships is key to facilitating increased teleworking, according to Javier Castano from the city of Madrid. For Toulouse, alternatives to full-on teleworking are being explored, such as flexible use of co-working spaces closer to home.

But we really need to understand the impacts of teleworking on our lives – from the relocation of workplaces and restaurants, to the potential increased leisure time (and the associated travel), we need to understand how teleworking will impact transport operators and commuting patterns in the long-term. Further research needs to be carried out on the impact and needs of all stakeholders, as well as on local economies.

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