This year, European Mobility Week takes on special significance with the global pandemic requiring us all to rethink the way we get around. This year’s edition includes the well-known car-free day. It is, above all, an opportunity for towns and cities to celebrate active mobility and clean, shared transport options and to demonstrate how adapting our mobility can improve quality of life in urban areas.
This year we have adjusted our campaign to make sure that towns and cities are able to participate given the current circumstances. For example, we have made the participation criteria for this week’s campaign awards more flexible, so that new temporary measures can also be considered, such as temporary speed limit reductions that have helped increase road safety for pedestrians and cyclists, especially in residential areas.
It is therefore fitting that this year’s campaign coincides with the ROADPOL Safety Days, organised by the network of European traffic police to raise awareness of road safety. To keep the spotlight on local mobility, we will also host the first annual European Urban Mobility Days conference at the end of September. I’m very much looking forward to the discussions and debates that this event will certainly give rise to.
“[European Mobility Week] is, above all, an opportunity for towns and cities to celebrate active mobility and clean, shared transport options”
One topic very likely to be on the agenda is how to restore trust in public transport. In our guidelines of 13 May on the restoration of transport services, we encouraged cities and regions to play a crucial role, by adopting measures on minimum distancing, crowd reduction and face coverings. This will ensure the highest safety standards for public transport passengers. This year’s mobility week focuses on zero-emission mobility for all.
During lockdown, we experienced the equivalent of having a car-free day every day of the week. The reduction in air and noise pollution was well observed – even pushing back the Earth Overshoot Day by three weeks. As we return to our old habits, many are asking what we can be done to keep air and noise pollution on a downward trend, and to achieve the European Green Deal objective of making our continent carbon-neutral by 2050.
The first step of our response will be to adopt a strategy for smart and sustainable mobility later this the impact of COVID-19, the strategy will set out a path to sustainable and digital transitions within the sector, on building a resilient and crisis-proof transport system for future generations, and on delivering on the European Commission’s ambitious climate and digital priorities. Of course, achieving zero-emission mobility requires more than sustainable urban mobility planning and mobility management – as important as they are.
We also need to considerably boost the uptake of clean vehicles and alternative fuels. By 2025, around one million public recharging and refuelling stations will be needed for the 13 million zero- and low-emission vehicles expected on EU roads. We will support deployment where gaps exist through a range of financial instruments, including Next Generation EU and the Connecting Europe Facility.
Ensuring we have a quality, interoperable European railway network will also feature prominently in our strategy. The European Commission is giving more visibility to this valuable transport mode by declaring 2021 the European Year of Rail. I would encourage all cities and regions to take part, and to organise activities that raise the profile of trains.
“Planning for the future is essential, but we must never overlook those working hard to keep us moving today. The pandemic revealed just how essential public transport workers are”
Our strategy will address smart and sustainable mobility together, because it is clear that they go hand in hand. Digital technologies enabling data-sharing, connected and automated mobility and smart traffic management systems will help increase efficiency while also making transport cleaner. Smart applications and ‘Mobility as a Service’ solutions will also play an important role in this context.
Planning for the future is essential, but we must never overlook those working hard to keep us moving today. The pandemic revealed just how essential public transport workers are. They deserve our recognition, along with local authorities and transport operators, and so does their hard work to keep everyone safe: staff, other essential workers and passengers alike.
It is precisely this spirit of dedication and ability to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances that we will rely on when working towards our longer-term climate objectives.
EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK (16-22 SEPTEMBER 2020)
This is an annual campaign promoting sustainable urban mobility. Last year, over 3,000 towns and cities joined the campaign from 50 countries worldwide. For more information, visit: www.mobilityweek.eu