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URBACT Walk and Roll guidebook

One of the key challenges many cities across Europe face is the physical separation of the different components of everyday life, leading to significant mobility demand. This demand is met to a large extent by car use: people drive cars in order to shorten the time needed for moving between different parts of the city – to work or to use various services. However, car-oriented local mobility has a wide range of adverse consequences, many of which negatively affect the quality of life already in the short run.

While most cities understand the problem, its likely consequences and are committed to implement a shift towards more sustainable urban mobility and public space use, this is easier said than done. That’s why 28 European cities of different sizes from 16 countries have come together to face today’s mobility challenges. Partners of the RiConnect, Space4People and Thriving Streets URBACT Action Planning Networks decided to establish a long term cooperation and created Walk’n’Roll Cities – a platform to exchange ideas, inspirations and learn from each other. 

Together, these cities explored visions and interventions that could contribute to massive reduction of car use in our cities. And, thanks to the Knowledge Hub initiative of the URBACT programme, an online publication has also been created that presents these visions and interventions.

As someone who has been actively involved in the development of this publication, I am proud to inform you that the online Guidebook is now available for download on the URBACT website. It is an accessible, practical and concise resource for local politicians, decision-makers, professionals, city practitioners and citizens, who are interested in urban mobility and committed to make their city a better place for people.

Go ahead, download the document, take a ride with us and make the most of your journey!

Click here to access the dedicated URBACT Knowledge Hub Walk’n’Roll Cities page.

Or go ahead and download the publication.

Mobility as a Service partnership delivers in Lisbon and in neighbouring Évora

The development of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has taken a significant step forward in the Portuguese capital Lisbon and in the neighbouring city of Évora. In the two cities, local software developer Ubirider has come together in collaboration with payment provider Mastercard and the transport operators to create a MaaS platform for the two cities.

Ubirider has created the MaaS platform, Pick, which provides digital mobility solutions that combine information, booking, payment and ticketing. In cooperation with Mastercard, Pick simplifies users’ access and payments for mobility services. The MaaS platform includes the Pick Hub mobile app, the cloud software and the web portal. It gives users the ability to move around the cities more easily by giving them access to integrated, multimodal transport. At the same time, transport operators will benefit from increased efficiency, cost reductions and an improved quality of service. The data collected on mobility trends will also enable local authorities to adjust the network’s service offerings to meet people’s and companies’ needs, while improving the service in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

With this partnership, the Portuguese cities aim to significantly improve the user experience and to gather valuable data on travel needs and mobility trends, which will support transport operators in managing and integrating several services, platforms and operation data into one single application. In the app, users have access to the schedules and other services offered by operators, while operators will be able to communicate updated information to users. The platform will also accept payments (via credit/debit cards or digital wallets) and issue tickets through different channels (such as ticket offices, vending machines, mobile apps, website), as well as issue invoices and receipts.

MaaS platforms, such as Pick, foster intermodality among city dwellers, allowing them to plan their door-to-door trips, using the best combination of travel modes. They also enable users to pay for their journey in a single aggregated payment, reducing the need to spend precious time to buy different tickets. At the same time, the app ensures direct and immediate payment distribution to transport operators, reducing their administrative costs. Moreover, Pick also includes contactless payment, such as Tap-on-Phone, a more secure, faster and more affordable software technology that transforms any smartphone into a simple payment terminal. Mastercard and Ubirider piloted Tap-on-Phone technology in the Pick Driver app, which is the traffic app for bus drivers in Évora, in July 2022, which facilitated the acceptance of contactless payment on local public buses.

The Pick platform has already been adopted by Lisbon’s suburban rail operator, Fertagus, which reported that over 30% of ticket sales were undertaken using the app in the first 10 months. Ubirider and Mastercard have been working together for some time in Portugal and this partnership for implementing MaaS in Lisbon and Évora is the result of the successful cooperation between the two organisations.

Pedestrian accessibility to public transport stops in Gdansk

City planners in Gdansk can now use the Pedestrian Accessibility Model‘ – a mapping ‘tool’ to assess pedestrian accessibility to public transport stops. The developed Pedestrian Accessibility Model is an instrument that allows for more effective planning of investments, with care for the comfort of pedestrians. It is also a valuable source of information for residents who are looking for the shortest route to the bus stop, tram or train.

The Pedestrian Accessibility Model is the result of using the GIS technology, which is a basis for a dedicated internet applicationMap of pedestrian accessibility to public transport stops in Gdansk. Depending on the needs, the model will also be able to check the pedestrian accessibility of other points, facilities or areas in the city.

The works on the map took two years and was lead by the Gdansk Development Office. Gdansk is consistently looking for solutions that support carrying out tasks within Gdansk’s Development Strategy. A priority for mobility is convenient and safe accessibility on foot, by bike and by public transport. Previously, distances which didn’t reflect the actual condition of the pedestrian infrastructure and the existing spatial barriers were estimated. Now very accurate and precise data is used.

Thanks to the GIS technology it has become possible to accurately cover the map of Gdansk with a network of existing pedestrian routes: sidewalks, stairs, paths and passages created by residents. Each area of the city was verified to ensure that the network was as close as possible to real pedestrian routes. Planners can search new, potential connections of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure which will be included in local spatial development plans. Map functionalities will also be used by planners to study other aspects of accessibility in the city, e.g. to green areas or schools.

These activities are also a part of ‘15-Minute City’ idea. Walking instead of driving to school, shop or medical centre means less noise and exhaust fumes – it improves the quality of life in the city.

‘Map of pedestrian accessibility to public transport stops’ is a tool that can be used by all residents. The web application shows the distance to the selected bus, train or tram stop and the frequency of its service in a simple and legible way. The user can check whether their place of residence or work is within one of several defined ranges of the stop impact area. It can also verify the condition of pedestrian infrastructure in its vicinity and search for stops with a given frequency range of buses, trams or trains. A specially designed interface allows to filter selected content or export it to external files.

The map is used by planners from the Gdansk Development Office, but it will also be helpful for the Gdansk Pedestrian Officer and Public Transport Authority. Thanks to it, municipal units are able to improve the pedestrian and public transport infrastructure in order to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of Gdansk. The Pedestrian Accessibility Model and the application were created based on public available vector data on pedestrian routes e.g. OpenStreetMap. The coding methodology is based on assumptions developed by the authors. Information on the daily service frequency of each stop is obtained from open data delivered by public transport operators and companies: ZTM Gdansk, SKM and PKM Gdansk.

The tool is updated every few months and the development of new functionalities is also planned.

Link: New tool for city planners in Gdansk – a map of pedestrian accessibility to public transport stops

Programme in London Borough of Lewisham promotes greenery and clean mobility

The London Borough of Lewisham plans to transform its streets to make them safer and cleaner, and a place that welcomes walking and cycling. The Council’s main motivation is to improve air quality and road safety, as well as to reduce the number of cars and vans that dominate the district’s streets.

The council’s Sustainable Streets Programme aims to plant more trees, install bicycle parking hangars and provide charging options for electric vehicles on its streets. Car parking will be restricted around junctions and a new parking permit scheme for residents and businesses will give priority to local people. Today, about 60% of road space in Lewisham is taken up by car parking, even though half of the borough’s population does not even own a car. Residents will be able to have their say about the proposed changes as the council is to consult them on ideas and measures.

Lewisham plans to introduce the changes using a stepwise approach, starting with roads in two areas, Deptford and Catford/Crofton Park. Here, the council wants to install around 500 bicycle parking spaces, 300 trees and 100 e-charging points.

Councillor Louise Krupski, cabinet member for Environment and Climate Action, said: “We want to reimagine our borough’s roads and streets to create a greener Lewisham, improve road safety and help reduce air pollution. Our Sustainable Streets programme is just the start of our ambition to increase active travel and reduce unnecessary car journeys, as we look to create a net-zero borough and tackle the climate emergency.”

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Accessibility of stores by a 15-minute walk in Helsinki

The Digital Geography Lab at the University of Helsinki researched impacts of age, winter conditions and opening hours of services on walking accessibility, following the idea of the ‘15-minute city‘.

The team looked at the Helsinki metropolitan area and measured walking speeds in different summer and winter conditions, as well as accessibility of stores.

Specific attention was given to vary walking conditions as well as ability of the persons walking, as PhD research Elias Willberg stated: “Accessibility research and planning are often done from the average person’s point of view and without considering temporal variation. In other words, the plans are made for healthy adults who walk in good conditions, which doesn’t necessarily describe the daily reality of many older people very well, especially in winter.”

Results highlighted that the opening hours of stores and services had the biggest impact on accessibility by walking, followed by age and seasonal conditions. Looking at typical assumptions of healthy walkers, good outside conditions and open stores and services, as many as 93% of the Helsinki metropolitan area population had access to their nearest store within a 15-minute walk. But starting from the conditions of elderly people walking in the early morning during wintertime, the rate dropped to 34%.

Variations of access to the nearest store were high between and within the population groups. In some cases, access levels vary even more inside the group of older people than comparing the group with younger people.

The research team stated that more attention needs to be given to the assumptions taken for planning. Taking the needs of people with reduced mobility and walkability is a good approach to planning, as well as putting priority to actions that maintain good walking conditions like removing snow and preventing slippery surfaces during wintertime.

Professor Tuuli Toivonen summarised that the study strengthens the view of the importance of local services for an inclusive and walkable city, and that it is to the benefit of the entire population, when planning takes those in a weaker position and with less mobility as the starting point.

The article on the study is accessible here.

UK Government backing helps launch the world-first self-driving bus

Passengers will be boarding the world’s first full-sized, self-driving bus service in Edinburgh starting in the spring. The project is one of seven successful initiatives from across the UK that together make up the most cutting-edge network of for-profit, autonomous passenger and freight operations in the entire world.

The grants, which are a part of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles‘ Connected and Automated Mobility program, will assist British businesses in taking advantage of early opportunities to transform experimental projects into products that are ready for the market.

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise passenger travel and public transportation, improving connectivity between rural areas, and lessening human error-related traffic accidents.

UK government is also committed to introducing legislation that will enable the safe and timely rollout of self-driving vehicles on UK roads.

Read the full press release here.

First-of-its-kind incident data involving shared e-scooters published

On 10 January 2023, Micro-Mobility for Europe (MMfE), the EU association of shared micro-mobility providers, released a first-ever factsheet on incident data involving shared e-scooters in Europe.

By making aggregated incident data from its six founding members (Bird, Bolt, Dott, Lime, Tier and Voi) transparently available, MMfE seeks to inform road safety policies that aim to reduce incident risks for vulnerable road users, such as e-scooter riders, cyclists and pedestrians, in collaboration with the EU and local authorities.

Based on over 240 million shared e-scooter trips, accounting for over 461 million km travelled, the data from 2021 on incidents demonstrate that the risk of incidents that required medical treatment has declined by 60% compared to 2019. In 2021, 5.1 injuries from shared e-scooters per million km travelled required medical assistance. Compared to private e-scooters, fatality rates on shared e-scooters are thought to be about half as high, although incident data for shared e-scooters and private e-scooters are most often combined in incident reporting. Overall, the MMfE observed a similar risk of fatal incidents for shared e-scooters riders as for cyclists. The data in the MMfE Factsheet on fatalities suggest that the fatality risk on shared e-scooters in Europe was 0.015 per 1 million km ridden in 2021 (comparable to that of bicycles) and is 20 times lower than for mopeds.

To improve road safety for vulnerable road users, MMfE makes the following recommendations, bearing in mind that cars and trucks are the main source of road traffic fatalities in the EU:

  • Invest in safe infrastructure.
  • Harmonise incident reporting standards across Europe.
  • Acknowledge that e-scooter riders are vulnerable road users.
  • Encourage enforcement of traffic rules by local authorities.

Shared micro-mobility, together with reducing car use and filling the gaps in the public transport network, plays an important role in solving cities’ most enduring transport challenges, such as traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, sustainable mobility and road safety, among others.

90% of Barcelonians live within 300 metres distance of a cycle lane

Thr city of Barcelona reported that in 2022 more than 220,000 bicycle trips/day were made, an increase of 11% with respect to 2021. The Catalonian capital is following the path of becoming progressively more cyclable, sustainable and active mobility friendly. Cycling lanes in Barcelona may be on a separate and designed lane, on sidewalks or on the road.

In 2022, 7.32km of new cycling infrastructure was incorporated to the urban network, with another 9 km are already planned to be implemented in 2023. Works start this January on Mallorca street, between Clot and Cartagena streets. This cycling lane will then reach the coast, the seaside of Barcelona.

In 2023, cycling lanes will reach and completely also connect the Arc de Triomf and Urquinaona square, as a new cycling lane will be implemented on Sant Pere boulevard between Girona and Roger de Llúria streets.

With the new extensions, the Catalonian capital can now rely on more than 230km of dedicated bike lanes, of which around 100km have been deployed over the past 6 years. Therefore, cycling in Barcelona has been a popular means of moving around for a while, and as of January 2023, 90% of Barcelonians can say they live within 300m distance of a cycle lane.

Nonetheless, cycling still represents a minority of the modal split. In fact, only 2% of daily commutes are made by bike. The majority of trips in the city are still made by private car, by public transport or on foot.

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Madrid becomes the first major European capital to have a 100% clean bus fleet

In December 2022, the Spanish capital Madrid became the first major European capital to operate a 100% clean fleet of municipal buses. The city’s fleet consists of 1,915 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and 180 electric buses.

The city has plans to increase the share of zero emission buses, as it intends to acquire 10 hydrogen buses and 150 more electric buses in 2023. The creation of a clean bus fleet is one of the core policies that will help bring about clean transport within the city, as set out in the council’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy and the Madrid transport operator EMT’s Strategic Plan 2025.

However, the bus acquisitions in 2023 are not the end of the city’s plans, as the municipality aims to increase the share of electric buses in its fleet to 25% over the coming years. Furthermore, these additional buses will not be powered by electricity from the grid, as a photovoltaic system will be installed to supply the necessary electricity for these additional buses.

Overall, the city’s investment between 2020 and 2025 on its bus fleet is set to reach approximately €610 million. This demonstrates that Madrid has a clear ambition to clean its bus fleet, thus making significant progress since it purchased its first CNG bus in 1994.

Krakow to expand high-speed tramway network with public-private partnership

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has signed agreements to support the construction of phase four of the high-speed tramway network in Krakow, Poland, through a public-private partnership (PPP).

The EBRD are set to provide a loan equivalent to approximately EUR 54 million to the project company, PPP Solutions Polska 2 Sp (SPV). The rest of the financing package will be co-financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and a Polish commercial bank.

The project will include a new 4.5 km twin-rail track, a 900-metre tunnel, and associated infrastructure will also be upgraded. This expansion will connect two existing tramlines in Krakow, therefore increasing the system’s capacity. This will enable 40 additional tram trips per hour, or around 550 more trips per day.

EBRD Director for Infrastructure in Europe, Susan Goeransson, stated: “The project will make Krakow’s tram network faster and more convenient, encouraging more people to use trams instead of cars. The associated infrastructure will also serve pedestrians and cyclists.”

This project represents the first PPP for the municipality of Krakow and the first in Poland’s tramway sector. The EBRD has committed over EUR 1 billion to clean transport in Poland to date, of which half has been in public transport, rail and ports, and half dedicated to electric-vehicle manufacturing.