Letter: European exit strategy must show strong support for sustainable urban mobility

POLIS has today called for more support for sustainable urban mobility in Europe's exit strategy in response to COVID-19.

The letter - co-signed by 12 organisations representing public transport authorities and operators, business associations, European local and regional authorities, and NGOs - highlights the need to support urban mobility in responding to this crisis, but also to capitalise on the opportunities for sustainable urban mobility going forward.

The letter has been sent to Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean to call for a stronger response from the European Commission to ensure that sustainable and safe urban mobility is a key component of Europe's COVID-19 exit strategy.

A European level strategy on urban mobility is needed to pull together guidance and key measures to:

  • Accelerate the shift towards sustainable, safe and integrated urban mobility
  • Foster growth and competitiveness in green technology for transport
  • Encourage the implementation of future-proof urban freight logistics systems
  • Prevent entrenched and unsustainable interests from benefiting from inertia and historically low oil prices to derail or postpone progress with the European Green Deal
  • Support local and regional authorities, public transport stakeholders, cycling businesses and walking and cycling associations to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities brought by this crisis.

Focus must be channeled into key areas of urban mobility, including:

Public transport
Support is urgently needed for the public transport to ensure that the sector can:

  • Recover from the sharp drop in revenues and loss of capacity, and make sure the losses it incurred for preserving public safety don’t cause irreparable damage to its financial health
  • Return gradually to previous service levels while ensuring health and safety conditions, and facilitate increases in capacity through integrated multi-modal sustainable and safe travel
  • Resume its investments in sustainability, in line with European Directives, pursuing the transition to decarbonisation and cleaner fleets to reduce emissions, but also to keep our green vehicles industry competitive.

Walking and cycling
This crisis has brought before us a unique opportunity to reshape urban mobility in Europe. Amidst a dramatic crisis, an incredible momentum has been created for sustainable mobility behaviours and for temporary measures to become permanent. To make the most of this unique opportunity:

  • We must encourage temporary initiatives to provide more road space to pedestrians and cyclists, which are currently being put in place all around Europe, to be multiplied and perpetuated
  • Purchase subsidy schemes for electric bicycles, which have been put in place very successfully in countries like France or Sweden, should be generalised for the whole EU, making cycling more attractive for large groups of the population, and giving a boost to the European cycling industry
  • A forthcoming proposal for an EU E-bike Access Fund has been created by the cycling sector. This fund would accelerate e-bike take up in countries where there are market barriers to e-bike use. Access will be accelerated by a mix of purchase incentives, shared fleets and delivery bikes for small business. The fund proposed is €5.4 billion to accelerate access in 22 EU countries

The full list of signatories is:

  • POLIS Network
  • UITP
  • European Metropolitan Transport Authorities
  • European Cyclists’ Federation
  • European Passengers Federation
  • Cycling Industries Europe
  • International Federation of Pedestrians
  • Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry
  • Walk21 Foundation
  • European Federation of Road Traffic Victims
  • Transport & Environment

The letter can be read in full here.