Urban sustainable mobility is a need in most European cities. The European Environment Agency (EEA) points out that air pollution can lower the life expectancy of Europeans by up to three years.
European Mobility Week 2015 was held recently in order to establish urban transportation alternatives that are more sustainable and to fight against climate change. From the 16th to the 22nd of September, more than 2,000 cities participated in this initiative, which this year centered on the theme of “Fighting climate change with every trip.”
With 319 activities, Spain was the second country with the most activities scheduled for this edition, following Austria.
This initiative supports EU policies in the area of transport, climate change, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban development.
A “day without cars,” an important action for sustainable mobility
Of the many activities carried out this year, the day without cars has been one of the most popular, with strong support from participating cities.
September 22 was the date selected for this action, in which cities limited traffic in certain areas to pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation, and clean (electric) vehicles.
In addition to the day without cars, participating cities focused their efforts on increasing awareness of public transportation as well as organizing bicycle outings and events aimed at promoting hybrid or electric vehicles, etc.
In Tallinn, for example, driver's license holders were given free access to public transportation during the entire week.
Other sustainable mobility initiatives
Aside from European Mobility Week, there are a number of other initiatives focused on sustainable transport throughout the continent.
Barcelona held a new day without cars on October 17.
Madrid is making plans to restrict traffic in the downtown area by establishing Residential Priority Areas (RPA) that will limit traffic to residents and motorcycles with restricted hours, as well as to vehicles for loading and unloading.
Other European cities have followed suit with their own traffic restrictions. Berlin, for example, has created an Umwelt Zone where traffic is limited to vehicles that meet certain emission standards.
Rome has a Limited Traffic Area (LTA) that may only be accessed by residents who hold a “Permesso Centro Storico” permit.
Athens has also implemented vehicle limitations. There have been driving restrictions within Dactylios ("downtown area" in Greek) since 1982.
London has established the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) in the downtown area between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
In Holland, WEpods (driverless minibuses) will travel along the road connecting the cities of Wageningen y Ede (in the eastern part of the country) on a daily basis as of November.
In the United Kingdom, the Lutz Pathfinder prototype has been tested at Milton Keynes and it is expected to be used in other cities The Meridian shuttle is another self-driving vehicle project that is being carried out in this country.
France has Navya, which is a company focused on autonomous electrical systems. The entity specializes in mobility and its prototypes are currently being tested.
Bicycles are one of the most popular alternatives that have appeared in various cities throughout Europe as well as the rest of the world. Antwerp, Barcelona, Chicago, Guangzhou, Madrid, New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Washington DC are some of the cities that operate urban bicycle sharing systems.