Could it be easier and greener to travel around your city? A solution might already exist. People around the world are coming up with clever ideas for low-carbon, high-quality transport. An EU-funded project helps cities learn from the best.
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If you’re ever stuck in a city traffic jam, do you wonder how other cities deal with the problem? Moving people and goods more sustainably can cut pollution, save energy and boost the economy. So rather than reinventing the wheel, why not borrow good ideas?
The SOLUTIONS project is helping cities in Europe, Asia and Latin America to adopt proven policies and technology on six themes: public transport, transport infrastructure, city logistics, network and mobility management, integrated planning and clean vehicles. Started in 2013, it supports five partnerships between cities with successful policies and cities that want to improve in similar areas, while offering training and advice to other cities.
“Cities can learn a lot from sharing expertise and taking home new solutions to their own transport issues,” says project coordinator Oliver Lah of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, based in Germany.
He adds that learning from other cities can limit CO2 emissions and generate many synergies with other sustainable development objectives. “A project like this helps avoid the mistakes of the past, leapfrogging emerging economies to sustainability.” And the project’s networking approach can reveal business opportunities and streamline development funding, he notes.
Two cities are already close to implementing schemes supported by SOLUTIONS. Bremen in Germany has shown Belo-Horizonte in Brazil how to boost cycling through cycle sharing, infrastructure and road safety measures. Kochin in India is considering integrating its new metro system with water transport and other low-carbon transport options – such as cycling and electric three-wheelers – mentored by the Chinese city of Hangzhou.
Other cities are using the experience-sharing network and training to make their own mobility more sustainable. They are assisted in this by the project’s catalogue of over 60 successful transport measures from around the world, as well as knowledge-sharing kits and policy implementation kits.
To build its core network, the project launched a call in 2013 for cities to join. “In selecting the cities, we looked at policy implications, regional distribution, the maturity of the policy process and their commitment to improving transport,” says Lah.
Five of the 19 successful cities were chosen as leading cities, to act as mentors on transport policies; five were designated as take-up cities, looking for solutions to existing problems. Leading and take-up cities paired off in twinning workshops, according to their transport interests and other similarities, such as size. Each pair then picked measures for the take-up city from policies suggested by the project members.
“The project is more sustainable if the parties choose their own solutions,” says Lah.
Support for cities during the take-up process includes advice from lead city peers and SOLUTIONS experts in the form of on-call advice, targeted policy analysis and visits to the lead city.
Policymakers from the remaining nine cities receive policy advice and attend regular workshops to share knowledge and build their capacity to develop sustainable mobility measures.
Online training courses and materials covering one or all of the research themes are also available on the project’s website, along with links to related EU-funded projects. Meanwhile, academic publications and urban transport events are providing a wider platform for the project’s results.
One outcome of this sharing is the Urban Mobility SOLUTIONS Network, to be launched early next year, which will sustain the partnerships established in the project and include a focus group on transport research in Mediterranean partner countries. Together with the partner UN HABITAT – the UN’s programme for human settlements, SOLUTIONS has also developed the Urban Electric Mobility Initiative (UEMI) to promote electric mobility in urban areas. UEMI was launched at the UN Climate Summit in 2014 and progress will be presented at the UN Climate Conference (COP 21) in Paris in late 2015.
Although SOLUTIONS will end in 2016, Lah expects the city networks and partnerships to carry on after that date to share ideas and work together for more sustainable transport.