SUMP to school: improving home-school journeys in Venice (Italy)


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Par Lei Zhang / Mis à jour: 05 Sep 2016

Within the PUMAS project, the City of Venice has developed a comprehensive strategy in order to make sustainable mobility an essential element of its urban and educational policy.

Its 'shared sustainable school mobility plan' includes the active involvement of parents and pupils to transform both physical urban spaces and mobility behaviour in order to improve the safety and health of home-school journeys in Mestre-Venice and to promote new forms of sustainable accessibility.


The PUMAS (Planning Sustainable regional-Urban Mobility in the Alpine Space) project, financed by the Alpine Space Programme, began in July 2012 and ended in June 2015. As a consortium composed of five cities, one university, one chamber of commerce, one environmental agency, one transport provider, and two research centres from Italy, France, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia, PUMAS fostered integrated mobility planning, urban/peri-urban development, commuting/travel and interoperability/intermodality (ICT instrument), and urban logistics policy measures.

Located in the northeast of Italy and the capital of the Veneto Region, the City of Venice faces many challenges regarding sustainable urban mobility. As the lead partner of the PUMAS project, the City of Venice managed the coordination, supervision, communication, and implementation of the project’s pilot activities. About 272 000 inhabitants populate the entire city, with around 60 000 in the historic city centre (centro storico), 176 000 in Terraferma (the mainland, largely in the zones of Mestre and Marghera), and 31 000 on the other islands in Venice’s lagoon.

Urban mobility affects daily life in Venice. In Mestre, this is particularly apparent in the home-school journeys of children. Up to 30 years ago, students travelled to school on foot or by bike. Today, the same roads must now accommodate at least 100 cars each, creating disruptive changes, confusion, and lack of security as the commute from home to school falls right inside rush hour.

The City of Venice thus felt the need to develop policies and strategies for change due to reasons pertaining to health, pollution, and the quality of urban spaces that are all affected by this situation. Thus, the Venice Pilot Action of the PUMAS project developed a new mobility plan for daily home-school journeys to improve the safety and health of school routes in Mestre (Venice’s urban mainland) and promote new forms of sustainable accessibility.

The Venice pilot project (Scuola in classe A) aimed to improve road safety in local home-school trips, improve the sustainable accessibility and the mobility systems near schools and on the main routes to school, reduce traffic congestion during rush hours, and reduce school-age health problems potentially related to air pollution and home-school trips.

Six primary and junior high schools were involved in the project, which used the SUMP methodology to plan sustainable accessibility.

In action 

The project was divided into two phases. In the first phase, a local task force defined the objectives of the project. The second phase consisted of planning the project, drafting six detailed plans to make school entrances safer, road safety, changing behaviours towards home-school journeys in both students and parents, setting new interventions in educative plans in each school, developing effective packages of measures, and preparing an action and budget plan.

Some 152 teachers, 1 300 families, 2 600 parents, and three sponsors poured 920 man-hours and 850 kid-hours into Venice’s pilot PUMAS project, demonstrating a keen interest and commitment to improving mobility in the city. Children participated in activities such as creating a picture indicating which mode of transport they usually used to come to school, creating a flower flash mob from recycled materials with a message about taking their city back, communicating their feelings about their journey to school on a blackboard, and learning about CO2 to help the city get to 'A class'. 

A key participatory action was the use of iPads by pupils to trace their home-school journeys, allowing them to describe their mode of arrival to school and back, report meeting points with friends and companions, and point out local critical negative and positive areas in the process. In this way, this mobile exploration resulted in an online discussion of various locations of interest on the routes; a negative area might be a road that was missing a sidewalk, and a positive place might be where an officer was stationed to help pupils cross the road.

The final results of this 'PUMAS Voyage' were shared in an interactive exhibition of photographs and comic strips in which parents and pupils were able to vote on the best comic strips pertaining to these specific locations. Afterwards, the city implemented measures based on this feedback, such as enlarging signposts and painting sidewalks to indicate the vicinity of schools.


Two task forces were created, one composed of 28 stakeholders (technicians of local public authorities, external experts, teachers and parents, local associations) to co-design the new SUMP and one dedicated to defining local interventions for implementation. Two national conferences raised awareness and shared insights on the challenges of this project in order to help define the project goals and improve the citizens’ awareness of sustainable mobility.

The project concluded with the creation of a guideline document to help promote replication at a regional and potentially national level.

For further reading, please visit the official website at:

Challenges, opportunities and transferability 
Urban mobility planning
Public and stakeholder involvement
Walking and cycling
Mobility management
Western Europe
Giuseppe Mella
Lei Zhang
04 Aug 2016
05 Sep 2016