Participatory approaches prove key to developing Prato's SUMP (Italy)


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Par Simone Bosetti / Mis à jour: 24 Jul 2017

Prato’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) was the first to be approved in Tuscany and one of the first in Italy. Drawn up with the technical support of TRT Trasporti e Territorio, the SUMP was developed in partnership with citizens, local authorities and stakeholders. Their input was collected via an online survey and meetings.

Special attention was paid to the ex-ante evaluation of the SUMP. Vehicle flows were analysed using a microsimulation traffic model, whilst the long-term effects of measures and actions were assessed with an experimental policy-analysis model (MOMOS – a Sustainable Mobility Model). The forecasted results would lead to a significant change in the city's mobility behaviour and urban-historical landscape, whilst improving quality of life.


With a population of 191,000 people, Prato is Tuscany's second largest city. It lies 15 km north-west of Florence in the centre of a densely populated and highly industrialised plain.

A frequent and reliable rail service connects Prato's three stations with Florence. The A11 motorway also connects Prato with Florence and its international airport and the Tyrrhenian Sea (via Pistoia, Lucca and Pisa).

Inside the city, high-frequency bus lines with their own designated lanes form the backbone of the public transport system, whilst the historic centre is well protected from through traffic. Nevertheless, mobility needs in the city are mainly fulfilled by car or motorcycles: those transport modes have a combined modal share of 72 per cent. By contrast, only 10 per cent of commuters use buses and even fewer bikes.

In action 

Prato’s SUMP was developed using EU SUMP guidelines and it outlines the vision of mobility in the city for the next decade. The SUMP led to a set of coherent, consistent and tangible policies and measures that should pave the way for a greater level of sustainable mobility in Prato.

The SUMP set out to achieve the following key aims:

  • to ensure that the plan is tailored to the needs of and situation in Prato and its surroundings;
  • to raise the quality of public space through the adoption of sustainable mobility policies;
  • to encourage the use of low-impact transport modes, such as public transport, cycling, and walking:
  • to reduce the dependence on cars for short distance trips;
  • to find more efficient ways of handling freight transport in the city.

The SUMP process was as follows:

  • A background analysis of transport and mobility in Prato and their environmental, social, and economic impact on the city.
  • The identification of the strategies guiding the formulation of the SUMP scenarios. This followed the background analysis, selection of SUMP objectives, and ascertaining the priorities raised through the various public engagement activities (meetings and an online survey).
  • The design of two different scenarios. The first was a reference solution, made up of all the pre-SUMP planned and financed mobility measures, whose main content was road infrastructures. The second was the SUMP scenario, designed by following a more sustainable approach (it included public transport, cycling and traffic calming measures). The new infrastructure measures (roads) included in the reference solution had been analysed one by one and eventually discarded if the resulting assessment indicated that the positive effect they would have on Prato's road network would be minimal.
  • The evaluation procedure. This involved implementing an ex-ante traffic model (AIMSUN) and a policy evaluation procedure (MOMOS, a strategic appraisal model - tailored to Italy - derived from the Urban Road Map 2030 tool).
  • The definition of a monitoring plan.

Prato’s SUMP was approved on June 2017 and its first actions are currently being implemented. The ex-ante assessment of the plan has forecasted a variety of results by 2025. These include:

  • A decrease of 20% in the overall distance covered by private vehicle; 
  • An increase of in bike trips of 48%;
  • An increase in the modal share of public transport and walking/cycling, reaching 31% of total trips taken;
  • A decrease in car ownership from 595 to 563 cars per 1,000 inhabitants;
  • A decrease of 4% - 11% in emissions of pollutants and a 7% decrease in CO2 emissions.

The total investment in the SUMP will amount to €51m over ten years. A similar amount of money will be spent on the road network - including an upgrade in the safety level of streets and pedestrian crossings -  as on measures related to sustainable mobility sectors, such as public transport, cycling, demand management, and traffic calming.

Challenges, opportunities and transferability 

Prato’s SUMP process was widely based on citizen, association and stakeholder input. Over 1,500 people participated and answered the online survey that aimed to detail urban and regional mobility demand. Moreover, four thematic groups and five local focus group (one in each of the city's districts) gathered ideas from hundreds of citizens and stakeholders.

A possible challenge is the uncertainty surrounding the building of some planned road infrastructure. If these are not constructed, it can hamper the feasibility of coherent and integrated sustainable mobility actions. For instance, if a new bypass cannot be built to divert traffic currently crossing the city centre, traffic calming measures cannot be implemented on old, historical roads.


Image credit: 240712-041 CPS by Chris Sampson under CC BY 2.0.

Urban mobility planning
Southern Europe
Simone Bosetti
Simone Bosetti
28 Jun 2017
24 Jul 2017