SUMP Conference Review: Intelligent Planning for Sustainable Mobility

By News Editor / Updated: 26 Apr 2017

On 29-30 March, nearly 400 participants convened in Dubrovnik, Croatia for the 4th European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. This year's edition followed three previous conferences held in Bremen (2016), Bucharest (2015) and Sopot (2014). Over the course of two days, a diverse community of practitioners, policy makers, city staff and academics from across Europe came together to discuss and debate the most pressing issues surrounding mobility planning in Europe.

In recent years, urban mobility has been high on the agenda due to increasing urban populations and the associated transport-related congestion and pollution in cities. With competition high for urban space, transport planning has significant impacts on quality of life for citizens. The notion that mobility is about more than simply moving vehicles and people was a recurring theme throughout the conference, with researchers, planners and policy makers alike acknowledging the potential for mobility to transform cities into more sustainable, liveable areas.

The theme of the conference was 'Intelligent Planning for Sustainable Mobility' and parallel sessions were clustered into four groups: ‘The Big Picture’, ‘Making the SUMP framework more effective’, ‘The integration and innovation challenge’ and ‘Planning Techniques’.

Both days of the conference began with opening plenary sessions followed by sets parallel sessions that covered a wide range of topics, including freight transport, accessibility, smart cities, tourism, urban regeneration, and framework conditions for developing and implementing SUMPs. In addition, a Market Place session brought more than 15 EU-funded projects and initiatives into one room, allowing for an interactive exchange on topics ranging from new transport planning methods and tools to long-term European campaigns and initiatives. A full list of sessions, including session summaries, presentations and key messages, can be found here.

New methods such as embedding the concept of Smart City in the SUMP approach, or tackling mobility challenges in touristic areas were explored along with topics like traffic calming, parking management and SUMP indicators. A key message that came up frequently was the reallocation of road space away from private cars and towards shared urban space for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and other purposes.

Many presenters and participants also stressed the important role that SUMPs can play in unifying a city or municipality's strategic vision by bringing together existing policy, integrating sustainability, citizen participation, intermodality, and more. SUMPs can also find synergies with other municipal planning documents such as SEAPs (Sustainable Energy Action Plans). At the same time, it was clear that the path towards preparing a SUMP is not always simple for cities; there are both political and practical hurdles to overcome.

The conference provided a fruitful opportunity for exchange, and also provided a look at the history of Dubrovnik's development through seven site visits. Each visit focussed on a different aspect of the city's development, including one bicycle tour following a typical resident's daily routine.