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‘EURFORUM’ unveils urban mobility SRA

A new Strategic Research Agenda for Urban Mobility was presented at the final conference of the FP6-funded EURFORUM Coordination Action in Brussels on 19 November 2007. High level participation included speakers from the Portuguese Presidency, the Committee of Regions, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Brussels metro © Peter Gutierrez
Changing the face of urban
© Peter Gutierrez

“With the majority of EU citizens living in urban areas today, the challenges of urban mobility are a key concern for the European Commission,” said András Siegler, Director of the Commission’s DG RTD Transport Directorate. “Cities all across Europe face problems of congestion, road safety, security, air and noise pollution and climate change due to CO 2 emissions. And with growing demand for transport in our cities, these problems are getting worse instead of better.”

Siegler described the role of the Commission as twofold, providing the over-arching policy framework for industry, local policy-makers, and all transport stakeholders, while financing the development of innovative technologies and exchange of best practices to ensure sustainable mobility in European cities.

The EURFORUM conference
The EURFORUM conference

Importantly, the EURFORUM process coincides with the new Green Paper on Urban Mobility, once again underlining the level of priority now assigned this issue.

Albert Bore, who chairs the Commission for Territorial Cohesion of the Committee of the Regions, said, “Urban transport has far-reaching implications for sustainability and climate change, for growth and economic competitiveness, and for the attractiveness of the European regions as places to live and work.”

Taking on urban transport

EURFORUM (European research forum for urban mobility) was aimed at improving the match between the demand and supply of EU research in the field of urban mobility. Partners worked to assess, through a wide-ranging stakeholder consultation process, research needs and priorities in the sector, bearing in mind EU and national research programmes, notably the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

A crucial task was to determine the current status of research and technological development. After assessing the achievements of current urban mobility research, partners then formulated a vision for the future. Indeed, a key EURFORUM objective was the elaboration of a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), i.e. a detailed action plan for the structuring and implementation of European research priorities in the field of urban mobility.

A new Strategic Research Agenda

The EURFORUM SRA considers all transport modes and focuses on intermodality for both passenger and freight traffic. It includes technology-oriented as well as policy-oriented research and is structured around four major themes:

  • User needs and behaviour
  • Urban structure
  • Mobility services
  • Integrated systems.
Barbara Lenz
Barbara Lenz

Presenting the SRA at the EURFORUM conference, Barbara Lenz of DLR said, “We have put the user at the centre of all considerations.” The EURFORUM SRA is complimentary to the SRAs already delivered by the European Technology Platforms for surface transport research, she explained, including ERRAC (rail), ERTRAC (road) and WATER BORNETP. “Compared to previous initiatives,” said Lenz, “the EURFORUM SRA is multimodal in perspective, linking a broader range of stakeholders, including city planners.”

High-level views

Ana Paula Vitorino, Portugal’s Secretary of State in charge of Transport said, “The second half of 2007 not only sees the Portuguese Presidency but, with the launch of the Green Paper last September, it is also the year of urban mobility.” What is important, she said, is the involvement of all actors, including citizens.

INRETS Director-General and President of ECTRI Guy Bourgeois stressed the importance of getting existing Technology Platforms more involved in the field of urban mobility, especially public transport.

Luisa Prista, Head of DG Research’s Surface Transport Unit, said, “The future is in front of us with clear research priorities on climate change and on urban mobility, but research cannot solve all problems. A more fundamental cultural change may also be necessary. We have to be prepared to consider new forms of partnership and new forms of research governance with shared responsibility, for example linking FP7 funding with regional and national funds.”

Come one, coma all

Finally, Prista reminded participants of the ‘TRA 2008’ Conference, a major road transport event to be held in Ljubjana in April 2008.

Siegler said, “The results of EURFORUM will pave the way for better coordinated research activities across Europe and will be an important factor in the implementation of FP7, improving our understanding of what measures can be implemented in cities to improve urban mobility.”