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NICHES
New and Innovative Concepts for Helping European Transport Sustainability

NICHES will facilitate the coordination of the research activities of academic institutions, industry, mobility operators and transport authorities regarding key urban transport innovations that lack broad deployment. NICHES aims to stimulate a wide debate between relevant stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines across the EU and Accession Countries in order to promote the most promising new concepts, initiatives and projects from their current ‘niches’ (sic) position to a ‘mainstream’ urban transport policy application.

Tags: Multimodal

Background

Over the last few years, scientists, transport operators, industry and policy-makers throughout Europe have developed a wide range of innovative concepts for making urban transport more efficient, competitive and sustainable. Despite significant progress, many of these efforts to date have not been implemented on a larger scale. A number of barriers have prevented these concepts from being widely deployed:

  • no coordination of innovation initiatives in different countries and cities
  • no integration with mainstream transport policy and development in relative isolation
  • no concrete strategies for achieving a transition from R&D to common practice
  • lack of dissemination outside their specific context
  • clear guidance missing regarding the transferability to other urban contexts
  • lack of awareness among stakeholders of the mutual needs and interests across transport modes and (public and private) sectors.

NICHES wants to remedy this by stimulating a wide debate on innovative urban transport and mobility between relevant stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines across Europe. NICHES will promote the most promising new concepts, initiatives and projects, moving them from their current niche position to a mainstream urban transport policy application.

Objectives

The high-level goal of the NICHES project is to support the development and adoption of innovative technology and policy-based urban transport concepts that will contribute to establish sustainable urban transport systems. This in turn is expected to contribute significantly to a more efficient and competitive transport system, a healthier environment and improved quality of life in urban areas.

The high-level project goal has been divided into five overall project objectives:

  • enhance discussion and knowledge exchange between practitioners, experts and researchers in the field of urban transport in Europe, ensuring that different sectors will be involved (transport authorities, operators, industry, academics and other researchers as well as users)
  • provide a forum for those involved in European research activities and projects as well as national, local and industrial initiatives in the area of innovative urban transport concepts to share their knowledge and experience
  • develop an accessible document store and a knowledge base amongst urban transport experts and practitioners on innovative transport concepts, as well as integrated urban transport strategies, in which several innovative concepts are implemented in a combined way
  • identify future research needs and pave the way for innovative transport concepts, meeting mobility needs in 2020
  • develop a platform for capacity building (tools and content) for practitioners with guidance on developing and implementing innovative concepts in the framework of integrated urban transport strategies.
Lift-sharing services
Lift-sharing services
Liftshare UK

Description of work

For the implementation of the NICHES project, a tailored combination of methods and tools is employed, which will ensure all objectives can be achieved efficiently. The starting point is a precise definition of selection criteria for ‘innovative concepts’, clarifying the meaning of this term within NICHES. It allows establishing the concrete information basis (reference examples) that the project will analyse and advance by using:

  • expert working group meetings – based on the focus group method
  • personal expert interviews
  • coordination of ongoing R&D activities
  • validation and dissemination workshops.

In order to find 12 innovative urban transport concepts, four thematic working groups were defined, related to the following areas:

  • new seamless mobility services
  • innovative approaches in city logistics
  • new non-polluting and energy efficient vehicles
  • innovative demand management strategies.

Throughout the full duration of the project, the working groups follow four successive work packages:

  1. State of the art and good practice
  2. Feasibility and transferability
  3. Design of integrated transport strategies
  4. Visions for the future and recommendations.

Results

The main deliverables are:

  • State of the art and good practice in developing innovative urban transport concepts: provides a structured overview of 12 selected innovative urban transport concepts, based on existing good practice. It deals with four different thematic areas that cover urban freight and passenger transport as well as non-polluting and energy efficient vehicles.
  • Feasibility and transferability of innovative urban transport concepts: summarises the results of the second phase of the project. It is a working document, which provides a large amount of detailed information about the wide range of innovative concepts. It provides an important information basis that feeds into the next work steps.
  • Integrated urban transport strategies: this proposes NICHES urban transport strategies as integrated packages combining the project’s innovative concepts and mainstream measures.
Public bicycles in Lyon
Public bicycles in Lyon
JC Decaux / City of Lyon

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