Poly-SUMP offers support to regions where mobility issues go beyond borders

By Pavlina Dravecka / Updated: 19 Dec 2014

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) can be a useful tool for city leaders looking to improve urban transport in their municipality. But what can be done when mobility issues transcend city boundaries?

Expanding urban areas mean that car traffic often originates from a location outside of the municipality’s control, particularly in situations where a high volume of workers live in one urban area, yet work in another. In these cases internal public transport provisions are not enough to stem the tide of traffic, so a more far-reaching plan is required. This situation is even more pronounced in densely populated regions, where a larger city is surrounded by small and medium sized towns.

The EU-funded Poly-SUMP project aims to address this problem by providing support for the development of SUMPs in so-called poly-centric regions - areas with separate political, social or financial centres.

The project has worked with six regions in Europe, helping them to engage with different administrative levels and relevant stakeholders to plan mobility measures for their area. A three-step methodology has been developed by the project to ease this process.

The first step is to understand mobility behaviour in the wider region, taking into account all urban areas affected. The second is to define a common vision that involves all parties, including transport and urban planners, local and regional policy makers, urban and interurban public transport providers, and so on. The final step is to start a formal co-ordination process, one that ideally leads to a SUMP for the whole region.

To aid with the first step, the project has developed a Regional Profile Tool, which helps cities gain a greater understanding of their mobility challenges. The more scattered the urban centres are, the higher the transport needs between those centres. Through the use of 10 indicators, the Regional Profile Tool defines the structure and transport patterns of the wider region.

‘We used the Regional Profile Tool to highlight the key mobility aspects of our region, which also gave us the opportunity to benchmark with other regions and learn from their experiences,’ said Fabrizio Pigini, Head of Sustainable Mobility Actions Unit, Regione Marche (Italy).

The six participating regions, namely Regione Marche, Central Alentejo (Portugal), Central Macedonia (Greece), Parkstad Limburg (The Netherlands), Rhine Alp (Austria), and the Heart of Slovenia, have included their experiences in managing polycentric mobility within the recently published Poly-SUMP guidelines. These comprehensive guidelines explore the methodology from start to finish, using practical examples from the six participating cities to show common barriers and successes within the process.

‘Local and regional governments face huge challenges when tackling problems like traffic congestion and pollution in towns and cities. And in [poly-centric regions], planning sustainable mobility is even more difficult, since so many different stakeholders are involved. These guidelines will support local and regional authorities in developing mobility plans for these poly-centric regions, complementing the existing guidelines on sustainable urban mobility already created by the European Commission,’ said Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport.

For more information on Poly-SUMP, visit the website.

The Poly-SUMP tools are also available on the Mobility Plans portal on Eltis.