Europe’s Urban Mobility Framework – Open Letter

Walking and public transport provide a higher return on investment

Walk21 is one of thirteen European associations to sign an Open Letter on the upcoming Urban Mobility Framework

The letter states:

Urban Mobility must change – substantively, and fast. The threats posed by the climate crisis call for immediate and concerted action at all levels of governance, while the green transition must not aggravate existing inequalities. Public transport and active mobility (walking and cycling) are the most sustainable, affordable, democratic, dependable, and resilient transport modes – and the most solid foundation on which to build. 

We have a choice – simply to perpetuate “business as usual”, but greener and technology-oriented, with the emphasis on decarbonisation; or a fundamental reprioritisation of our transport and mobility choices. As joint signatories of this open letter, in the middle of the important climate negotiations at COP26, we call upon the European Commission to produce an ambitious urban mobility framework (UMF) that will foster a sustainable and just mobility transition at the local level. We need a step change in our everyday activities if we are to deliver effective, fair and sustainable change. The Commission should adopt a holistic approach towards the challenges we must collectively face, and to not only focus on technological upgrade. Behavioural choices must be supported and encouraged by the provision of public transport and active mobility ecosystems. 

Any solution that falls short on implementing modal shift at the local level will take the current problems of social inequality, economic inefficiency, congestion, and local environmental detriment into the next decade. Priority must be given to a radically expanded and more attractive public transport offer and more opportunities for active mobility, which will enable a carbon-neutral society while also providing enhanced mobility for all, irrespective of income and ability; maximising efficiency of use of road and rail infrastructure; and reducing severance, congestion and air pollution. 

We call upon the European Commission to adopt an Urban Mobility framework that places accessible public transport at the forefront, enabling it to achieve its maximum potential, in particular to: 

1. Ensure that Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) accelerate the uptake of sustainable and collective mobility; 

2. Support sustainable mobility with appropriate funding opportunities; 

3. Create multimodal mobility on the ground and by harnessing the benefits of data. 

Please find our full statement here.

Tackling the environmental challenges, achieving renewed economic growth, and enhancing health and wellbeing must be linked with ensuring important societal objectives of affordable and accessible mobility, including for persons with disabilities. To realise these important goals, public transport and active mobility must be central to the future Urban Mobility Framework. 

While important climate discussions are being held at COP26, urban mobility must be part of the solution – and we expect the European Commission not to focus only on technological improvements, but to pave the way for a true mobility transformation at the local level. Walking, public transport and cycling are the most sustainable, affordable, democratic, dependable, and resilient transport modes, and should therefore be placed at the heart of the new EU Urban Mobility Framework.

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