Leuven is a dynamic and multicultural city in the Flemish region of Belgium, and the capital of the Flemish Brabant province. A dynamic and multicultural city, it shines because of its exemplary governance structures and established systems to encourage citizen innovation and participation in important decision-making processes, including mobility policy.

Bicycle parking in Leuven.
Photo credit: Jan Crab

Despite its relatively small size of just around 100,000 inhabitants, Leuven punches way above its weight when it comes to sustainable mobility. The European Commission aptly named the city the 2020 European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) for its special cooperation model, which unites residents, local authorities and the mobility sector to co-develop ground-breaking solutions for combating climate change, improving the quality of life and education, and promoting a sustainable, accessible, and inclusive mobility system.

Indeed, sustainable mobility has been a major part of Leuven's road to carbon neutrality. The city’s new circulation plan, introduced in 2016, pushed out car traffic from the city centre and redesigned public spaces for pedestrians and cyclists to utilise, and this strategy has seen the number of cyclists rise by 40%. This has been championed through the eHUBS project, of which POLIS has also been part, through which on-street locations brought together e-bikes, e-cargo bikes, e-scooters and/or e-cars, providing a range of sustainable transport options in a single location. This built on a longer-term increase in more sustainable transport use. In the last 20 years, Leuven has also seen a five-fold increase in public transport use.

Photo credit: Stad Leuven

This citizen engagement is present across the city. Through the H2020-funded and POLIS-supported WeCount project, residents have been at the forefront of measuring air quality, through road traffic counting sensors mounted on participating households’ windows.

Within POLIS, Leuven has had much to share as an integral member of the Small and Medium-Sized City (SMC) Platform, sharing all of its relevant expertise on how smaller municipalities can achieve a sustainable and smart mobility future.

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