Regulating vehicle access is opening up cities

More than 500 mobility professionals – local authorities, academics and the industry – travelled to Brussels for the 2017 Polis Conference on 6 and 7 December.

Pex Langenberg, Vice-Mayor of Rotterdam and outgoing President of Polis, complimented the audience for being forerunners in mobility and welcomed the growing turnout at the Polis Annual Conference. He referred to Rotterdam’s environmental zone, which was key to achieving air quality goals, including a 29% soot reduction over the last three years. Regulations and restrictions, he added, should come in combination with incentives, such as the city’s vehicle scrapping scheme and its deployment of 2000 charging stations for electric vehicles.

In a video address, Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport, said about UVARs: ‘The idea is good. But we should be careful and avoid fragmentation. They should be implemented in a coherent manner. Neighbouring cities should have similar regulations that are clear to consumers’.

In his keynote address, Professor Peter Jones of University College London explained how local authorities have moved from adapting their cities to vehicles to designing their cities for improved city life. Looking at UVARs and the future of mobility planning, he said: ‘UVARs play their part, but they should adapt to changing policy landscapes, increased cross-sectoral planning and the future of mobility including electric mobility and automated vehicles.’

Isabelle Vandoorne, Deputy-Head of Unit Sustainable and Intelligent Transport of Directorate General MOVE of the European Commission stressed that sustainable mobility should be achieved through a holistic strategy, like Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPS), of which access regulations are an integral part. ‘As the modern city grows denser, rather than sprawls, the competition for urban space intensifies.

We simply cannot afford the space waste of 20th century traffic planning in the dynamic city of the 21th century.’ said Shahbaz Khan, Political Secretary to Deputy Mayor for Transport of the City of Gothenburg. He added that while the word ‘access regulation’ implies a restriction, it in fact opens up the city to many.

Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy of Transport for London, illustrated the changing policy context and growing support from citizens. ‘While London first aimed at curbing congestion, healthy living and liveability are now the city’s main motivation.’

Panellists Erik Jonnaert of ACEA and Peter Harris of UPS gave the view of the automobile and delivery industry and called for coherence of access regulation schemes.

In their concluding remarks, the panellists highlighted that collaboration between cities and the industry is essential for the successful future implementation of UVARs, and that this week’s discussions are a starting point for further cooperation on the topic.

The Polis Conference takes place on 6 and 7 December in Brussels and addresses mobility challenges including transport planning, walking, cycling, the impact of transport on health, road safety, urban logistics, public transport, network management, cleaner vehicles, smart cities, parking, automation and travel behaviour.

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