From 16 to 22 September, under the umbrella of the EU’s annual mobility week, more than 133m people in over 1 300 towns and cities across Europe will take part in a string of different activities designed to make sustainable travel alternatives viable.
This year’s theme - Streets for people - conveys the clear message that building more roads is not the answer to existing transport challenges. Mobility week instead encourages local authorities to reallocate some road space to non-motorised traffic.
The schemes organised include: creating traffic-calmed or car-free zones; launching speed reduction programmes; improving cycle networks and facilities, and inaugurating new ecological bus fleets. It’s much more than just a short-term campaign.
Each participating local authority is expected to launch at least one permanent new scheme. As an indication of popularity, last year an average of 2.4 permanent measures were launched. The 2007 winner of the event, Léon, opened a new bus route and a new cycle route. And in 2006 Copenhagen won the award by testing out 15 new traffic experiments, such as new parking strategies.
The highlight of the week will be car-free day, due to take place in most participating countries on 22 September. Those involved extend well beyond Europe – China (for the very first time), Brazil, Canada and Thailand are also signed up.
“Fighting climate change and improving air quality are fundamental to our future well-being. European mobility week is helping to ensure that people in cities and towns can enjoy better air quality” said environment commissioner Stavros Dimas. These initiatives all help to make urban areas more liveable.
Further promoting environmentally-friendly modes of transport, Europeans are being encouraged to get on their bike every Friday. Inspired by “casual Fridays”, when employees are allowed to dress down for work, this initiative would also see them cycling to work on those days. The scheme will headed up by European commissioners, beginning on Friday 14 September.