EUROPE: Emphasising that ‘the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic cannot simply be a return to business as usual’, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has published guidance for policy makers aiming to reduce car use in urban areas.

Developed under the Transport Health & Environment Pan-European Programme, the guidance draws on 22 examples of good practice from 17 countries. It addresses a wide range of scenarios, looking at a variety of specific journey purposes as well as more general initiatives.


Home to work: Mobility management should become standard practice for companies and industrial parks, managed in co-operation with local authorities. A successful example is the Green Way project in Villach, where a technology company’s efforts to promote car-pooling, facilitate public transport use and encourage cycling and electric vehicle use led to 50% of its 3 400 employees travelling to work more sustainably.

Home to school: Schools and universities should appoint mobility teams with the aim of increasing the autonomy of students’ mobility and reducing congestion. School Travel Plans in the UK’s West Midlands have more than halved car use for home to school journeys.

Brussels metro

Major events: Mobility management should be an integral part of the organisation of major events, guaranteeing accessibility using a variety of modes other than the car and raising participants’ awareness of travel options. Travel planning for major concerts in Brussels led to the majority of fans reaching the venue by sustainable transport.

Sustainable urban logistics: This can have a direct impact on reducing urban traffic, pollution and noise, and can be incentivised through innovative technologies and methods for greener last-mile deliveries. A distribution service in Padova has led to the reduction of 1 216 vehicle-km per day in inner-city deliveries, while in Utrecht freight distribution by electric boat has helped reduced traffic congestion and cut annual emissions of CO2 by 17 tonnes.

Parking management: Effective management of parking means only 33% of trips to a new retail park in Zürich are made by car.

Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans: Robust planning is needed at all levels of government, with regular updates to reflect innovations.

Demand responsive transport: The use of on-demand transport can reduce car dependency in areas that cannot sustain regular fixed-route public transport. In the remote Swedish village of Kölsillre an on-demand minibus and online journey booking service resulted in 4 100 passengers transported in one year, at a cost of €0·61 per passenger-km compared to €2/pass-km for bus services.


Communication and information: Raising awareness of sustainable transport possibilities can be highly effective if tailored to different target groups. München uses events such as the birth of a baby, retirement or moving to the city in order to influence people’s mobility behaviour. New residents who received dedicated welcome folders and phone consultations used public transport 7·6% more than those who did not.