Urban Mobility Days makes a splash!

This year’s Urban Mobility Days in Brno proved a unique forum for intense debate and open discussion on how Europe moves from ambition to action as our climate goals approach… fast!

This biennial conference, jointly organised in 2022 by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Mobility & Transport (DG MOVE), and the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, is a major event in the urban mobility calendar.

Having taken place online in 2020 due to COVID-19, it was an event to remember. With four plenaries, many parallel sessions, and a range of interactive events, together local, national and international representatives discussed the way forward to sustainable urban mobility.

This year’s theme was ‘Moving people and goods more sustainably’ and, across three days, policymakers, local authorities, academics, NGOs, urban transport practitioners, and urban planners traversed the length and breadth of sustainable urban mobility, examining the latest challenges and solutions.


Karen Vancluysen at the Grand Opening, Credit: Milan Hruška

“Cities face critical challenges on the path to sustainable mobility, yet they also hold the key to action,” said POLIS Secretary General, Karen Vancluysen, kicking off the event in her role as Master of Ceremonies.

More than 70% of Europeans live in cities, and urban areas account for around 23% of EU greenhouse gas emissions from transport. At the same time, European cities are home to some of the boldest and most innovative solutions for passenger and freight transit.

At the same time, as POLIS’ Just Transition Agenda notes, fairness and equality must be at the heart of our journey forwards.

It was also a key moment to recognise the importance of severing Europe's dependence on Russian hydrocarbons and renewing support for Ukraine. During the Grand Opening Lesya Loyko, European Mobility Week National Coordinator for Ukraine, provided an unequivocal insight into the impact of Russian bombardment on the country, and how they are striving to overcome the devastation- with the help of the humble bicycle!

Safety & Mobility: Can’t have one without the other!

Safety was an issue high on the agenda. POLIS’ Pedro Homem de Gouveia, Safety and Security working group coordinator, joined the Czech Ministry of Transport, International Federation of Pedestrians DG MOVE and others on the panel for the session on the safety of active road users.

Urban mobility must be safe, to become sustainable.  We must bring Road Safety out of the Road Safety ghetto, and put it at the heart, and at the start, of transport planning and everyday traffic management decisions,” asserted Homem de Gouveia.

This is a topic POLIS' Safety and Security working group works on closely, addressing street and road safety, with a particular focus on protecting those who walk, cycle, or use public transport or shared micromobility vehicles.

If national or regional levels don't want to do it, then cities must have the power to reduce speed limits in the street networks of their territory. That's not the case in all EU member states, and that is just plain wrong, both functionally, and in terms of democratic principles. You must have the power to set decent rules of behaviour in your own home."

UVARs: Much progress, but still a way to go!

Ivo Cre. Credit: Milan Hruška

Urban Vehicle Access Regulations (UVARs) and parking management were also discussed.

UVARs are fast becoming crucial instruments for cities to comply with EU air quality standards, and limit congestion and traffic-borne emissions- while making public space… for the public! POLIS’ Ivo Cre was joined by cities and representatives from the ReVeAL and Park4SUMP projects to examine the key challenges ahead as cities and regions seek to adopt and accelerate UVARs.

POLIS members in action

Many POLIS members also took to the stage across the event, providing vital input, while the Civitas Young Champion Award went to Andras Vagany from BKK Budapest.

The ‘Financing & Funding’ plenary was moderated by Francoise Guaspare, from POLIS member Ile de France, with panellists exploring the instruments we have at hand to implement our mobility goals.

Sergio Fernández Balaguer, Head of International Department, EMT - Municipal Transport Company of Madrid leads the session. Credit: Milan Hruška

We also heard from many full and associate members across the parallel sessions. BKK Budapest, Breda University, University Gustave Eiffel, EMT Madrid (and others) delving into everything from UVARs to Urban Freight, Safety to SUMPs- showcasing their achievements, while discussing how to accelerate action.

Then, in the plenary on ‘Implementing Urban Air Mobility in Cities’, Dejan Crnek, Deputy-Mayor of POLIS member city Ljubljana sat down with representatives from the European Commission and the industry to explore the future of aviation technology and regulatory frameworks in our cities. Over the last few years, this topic has glided up the sustainable mobility agenda, with cities and regions piloting some innovative new approaches.

The outcome of the session? There are many challenges, but soaring potential, and the next major opportunity to discuss the way forward will be POLIS’ deep dive into urban airspace at the Annual POLIS Conference.

The final- and perhaps most hard-hitting- words came from Europe’s next generation.

Together with POLIS Secretary General Karen Vancluysen, and the Commission, four young rapporteurs reflected on the key issues discussed across the conference. With some honest feedback from the delegates on digitalisation, gentrification, and citizen participation they firmly marked 2022 as the European Year of Youth.

Vancluysen, Torsten Klimke from the EC and young rapporteurs at the closing plenary. credit: Milan Hruška

Still want more? Register for the POLIS conference now!

The Annual POLIS Conference 2022 will take place on 30 November and 1 December in Brussels, Belgium.

The Annual POLIS Conference provides an opportunity for cities and regions to showcase their transport achievements to a large audience of mobility experts, practitioners and decision-makers.

More information is HERE.