Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans: What they are and how they will be promoted in Europe

By Pavlina Dravecka / Updated: 22 Sep 2015

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is a strategic plan designed to satisfy the mobility needs of people and businesses in cities and their surroundings and its overall objective is to achieve a better quality of life. It is a way of tackling transport-related problems in urban areas more efficiently than has been the case in the past. Building on existing practices and regulatory frameworks in a country (such as land use planning laws, for example), the basic characteristics of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan are:

  • A participatory approach that involves citizens and stakeholders from the outset and throughout the planning process;
  • A pledge for sustainability to balance economic development, social equity and environmental quality;
  • An integrated approach that considers practices and policies of different policy sectors, authority levels, and neighbouring authorities;
  • A clear vision, objectives and a focus on achieving measurable targets that are embedded in an overall sustainable development strategy;
  • A review of transport costs and benefits, taking into account wider societal costs and benefits.

Today, different approaches to sustainable urban mobility planning exist throughout Europe. While England and Wales (Local and Regional Transport Plans) or France (Plans de Déplacements Urbains) may be considered forerunners, the approach is rather new or does not even exist in other parts of the EU, including most notably the New Member States of Central and Eastern Europe.


The need for more sustainable and integrative planning processes – particularly also in sectors related to urban mobility – has been widely recognised. At the European level Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans have gained increased recognition and importance. In its Transport White Paper of 2011, the European Commission encourages cities above a certain size to develop Urban Mobility Plans and proposes to examine the possibility of a mandatory approach.


Back In 2009, the European Commission proposed as part of its Action Plan on Urban Mobility to accelerate the take-up of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in Europe. As a result, the Commission contracted a group of universities, consultants and city networks to carry out a knowledge consolidation exercise and develop guidance material on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. Based on expert consultations and interviews with about one hundred experts from all over Europe, both a review of the State of the Art and, very importantly, new Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans were produced in early 2011.


These documents are available for download at They serve as reference material for awareness raising events targeted at national multipliers as well as technical seminars and experience exchange events for local planners and implementers. These events are to be offered in 31 European countries over the next 12 months - all events will be held in the respective national language.


Further information on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans as well as specific awareness raising events, seminars and experience exchange events can be obtained at