European Mobility Week puts focus on link between clean air and transport

By Pavlina Dravecka / Updated: 22 Sep 2015

European Mobility Week (EMW) 2013 saw citizens from over 1 880 cities take to the streets to explore the relationship between clean air and transport choices. Running since 2002, this Europe-wide campaign encourages citizens to try out alternatives to private vehicles, and prompts local leaders to take steps to create a more sustainable mobility culture.

Through a range of activities and events, participants looked at creating healthier, more pleasant urban environments through sustainable mobility. Andria, a city in the region of Apulia (Italy), put the focus on public transport, setting up a series of themed buses to transport passengers. Musicians played in the "music bus", a library was installed in the "book bus" and live performances were staged in the "theatre bus".

In Limerick (Ireland) activities included a bicycle repair workshop for children, and a class for school pupils on how to safely take the bus. Hunedoara (Romania) held public Zumba classes, while in Ronneby (Sweden) gift bags were given out to cyclists as part of the EMW celebrations.

Students in Brussels (Belgium) learned about "walking buses" and "Vélobuses" (cycling buses) as a means to get to school, while in other Belgian cities "Freezemobs" took to the streets. These flash mobs froze on the spot, like breathing statues, to raise awareness of sustainable mobility.

Larnaka (Cyprus) held a variety of activities, from awarding citizens that chose to cycle at a special press conference, to travelling by boat for Car Free Day. Budapest (Hungary) invited young citizens to take part in an art competition on the theme of clean air, among other EMW events.

This year’s edition ran from 16 to 22 September under the slogan ‘Clean air – It’s your move!’ and coincided with the European Year of Air, an area EU policy makers are currently reviewing through the Thematic Strategy on Air Quality. Air pollution continues to have a major impact on the health of European citizens, leading to respiratory and cardiac complications, premature deaths and shorter life expectancy. It also causes environmental problems, such as acidification, biodiversity loss, ozone depletion and climate change.

Urban traffic is a growing source of air pollution – specifically when it comes to particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. Local authorities therefore have the responsibility to develop urban transport strategies that meet mobility demand, protect the environment, improve air quality and make the city a better place to live.

By adopting the slogan “Clean air – It’s your move!” European Mobility Week underlined that we all have a part to play, and that even small changes, such as commuting by bicycle rather than taking the car, opting for public transport, or choosing to walk, can significantly enhance the quality of life in European towns and cities.

Confirming his support for the campaign, Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, said: “This year, we put an emphasis on the impact that transport and our daily choices have on the quality of the air we breathe and our health. By raising awareness and offering alternative transport options, cities can become more attractive places for people to live, they can make a major contribution to protect our health and promote a more sustainable future for all of us.”

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European Mobility Week