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Evidence of the Proven Economic Benefits of Sustainable Transport Initiatives to Facilitate Effective Integration in Urban Mobility Plans (EVIDENCE)

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The biggest challenge of implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) is to link the process of developing a strategy with the allocation of funding by the national administration. When EVIDENCE started, most SUMP projects tended to focus on building a bottom-up consensus on the importance of the SUMP approach to achieve social and environmental objectives. However, measures specifically deployed to achieve these objectives were frequently perceived by funding bodies to be less important than major infrastructure schemes.EVIDENCE produced a large body of evidence to support an enhanced role for sustainable urban mobility in EU cities. The project reviewed 351 documents which included specific evidence in relation to 22 types of mobility measures. Collectively they illustrate the potential benefits of a SUMP that delivers an integrated package of sustainable transport.The evidence uncovered will assist practitioners by:
  • Indicating the net beneficial economic returns that are likely to be experienced from the range of interventions commonly found in a SUMP, including the range and scale of benefits.
  • Providing information as to which interventions are most likely to work well together in respect of producing more sustainable mobility and providing economic benefits.
  • Offering examples of effectively evaluated existing interventions through the EVIDENCE database and the Measure Reviews.


  • The review of evidence clearly demonstrate that sustainable urban mobility interventions and investments are as effective as "traditional" infrastructure projects, which are typically adding new road capacity in or around cities.
  • The evidence presented in this study reveals that shifting patterns of spending and project selection away from new high-capacity roads or intercity high-speed rail links has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution and create highly attractive living environments that are increasingly factored into global decisions about inward investment, corporate relocation and the attraction and retention of highly qualified staff.
  • The Cost-Benefit-Analysis (CBA) methodology is widely criticised in the transport literature for the way it skews decisions in the direction of projects such as additional road capacity, when a wider analysis of costs and benefits would produce a more balanced approach across all modes. It is clear that if we include values for the health benefits and reduce the importance of time savings in calculations, we would get very different results. It is likely that such an approach would result in more funding for traffic reduction and decarbonised road transport.
  • Clear messages emerged from the evidence review about practical steps that should be taken to ensure sustainable urban mobility interventions are deployed successfully and their economic, social and environmental benefits are maximised. These factors have been categorised under the themes of 'Deployment', and 'Acceptance' (see 'The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Urban Mobility Measures - Independent Review of Evidence: Report'.
  • EVIDENCE has published key evidence sources available to support the view that investing in sustainable transport measures produces outcomes that are economically successful (see The website registered over 12,500 visitors and 60,000 page views, 677 backlinks and more than 19,000 document downloads. Around 600 individuals followed the project on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • EVIDENCE has produced a large body of evidence to support an enhanced role for sustainable urban mobility in EU cities which has been summarised in a series of documents that should be part of the essential reading list of policy makers and practitioners.

Lessons learned

  • Whilst the EVIDENCE project has highlighted the economic benefits that cities can achieve, the evidence base would greatly benefit from changes and improvements in evaluation and appraisal: The evidence base should be widened from the current relatively narrow set of criteria considerable by a Cost-Benefit-Analyses and include factors such as direct and indirect effects of travel choices on health; effects of attractive environments for work and shopping; economic costs of congestion and pollution.
  • Existing forms of economic evaluation (such as CBA) should be extended to avoid missing the central economic benefits of sustainable urban mobility interventions, or worse, using assumptions which seriously bias or underestimate the potential benefits.
  • Whilst it was necessary for practical purposes to consider measures individually, the report also seeks to communicate the importance of those interrelationships and how the 'whole can be greater than the sum of the parts' if such a package of measures is carefully selected and delivered in full.
  • Strong awareness of SUMPs and mobility management measures and schemes was identified, much of which came through involvement in EU projects, conferences, seminars, and training programmes.
  • In some countries there is a need to increase the number of educational programs on sustainable mobility. Training should be multi-disciplinary and the interaction between educational institutions and practitioners should be further encouraged.

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01/03/2014 to 28/02/2017
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