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What is a sustainable urban mobility plan?


The aim of the SUMP Glossary is to provide a brief explanation of specialist words, terms and abbreviations relating to the subject of sustainable urban mobility planning. The Glossary has been prepared by the CH4LLENGE project and as a result, there is a particular focus on defining terms relating to the four key challenges of plan development studied by the project, namely: participation, cooperation, measure selection and monitoring & evaluation. It is envisaged that, over time, the international community of mobility practitioners will add to the content of the online Glossary and produce versions in different languages.
A simple structure has been followed so that users can search for words, terms and abbreviations in a standard alphabetic format. For each Glossary term, the following information is provided:
• a general definition and, where available, a specific definition relating to transport and mobility planning;
• an explanation of why the term is relevant to sustainable urban mobility planning; and
• references to sources.
The preparation of the Glossary, including the selection of terms and drafting of definitions, has been informed by a review of relevant reports, guidance documents and existing glossaries. The key reference is the European Union “Guidelines - Developing and implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan” prepared for the EC’s Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme by Rupprecht Consult (January 2014) and therefore this has not been identified as a source throughout the document. The outputs of the CH4LLENGE project have also provided a principal source of information and the official documents can be found at www.sump-challenges.eu.

Please note that not all the explanatory text is taken directly from the listed sources. The authors have sought to take established definitions and information as the basis and explain these in simple terms and relate them to the context of sustainable urban mobility planning where this was not previously the case.

By Admin Eltis / Updated: 11 Nov 2015

These guidelines are based on a thorough consultationinfo-icon process with professional planners, policyinfo-icon makers and stakeholders from a very wide spectrum and from all over Europe. The following definition has emerged from this process:

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Planinfo-icon is a strategic plan designed to satisfy the mobilityinfo-icon needs of people and businesses in cities and their surroundings for a better quality of lifeinfo-icon. It builds on existing planning practices and takes due consideration of integrationinfo-icon, participationinfo-icon, and evaluationinfo-icon principles.



What turns a plan into a “sustainable” mobility plan? A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan aims to create an urban transport system by addressing – as a minimum – the following objectives:

  • Ensure all citizens are offered transport options that enable access to key destinations and services;
  • Improve safety and security;
  • Reduce air and noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption;
  • Improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the transportation of persons and goods;
  • Contribute to enhancing the attractiveness and quality of the urban environmentinfo-icon and urban design for the benefits of citizens, the economy and society as a whole.



The policies and measures defined in a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan cover all modes and forms of transport in the entire urban agglomeration, including public and private, passenger and freight, motorised and non-motorised, moving and parking.


Main characteristics

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan tackles transport-related problems in urban areas more efficiently.

It is the result of a structured process that comprises status analysis, visioninfo-icon building, objectiveinfo-icon and targetinfo-icon setting, policy and measureinfo-icon selection, active communication, monitoringinfo-icon and evaluation – and the identification of lessons learnt.

Building on existing practices and regulatory frameworks, the basic characteristics of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan are:

  • Long-term vision and clear implementation planinfo-icon;
  • Participatory approach;
  • Balanced and integrated development of all transport modes;
  • Horizontal and vertical integrationinfo-icon;
  • Assessmentinfo-icon of current and future performance;
  • Regular monitoring, review and reporting;
  • Consideration of external costs for all transport modes.


Long-term vision and clear implementation

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is based on a long-term vision for transport and mobility development for the entire urban agglomeration, which covers all modes and forms of transport: Public and private, passenger and freight, motorised and non-motorised, moving and parking.

It contains a plan for the short-term implementation of the strategyinfo-icon, which includes an implementation timetable and budget plan as well as a clear allocation of responsibilities and resources required for the implementation of policies and measures set out in the plan.


Participatory approach

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan focuses on people and meeting their basic mobility needs. It follows a transparent and participatory approach, which brings citizens and other stakeholders on board from the outset and throughout the plan development and implementation process.

Participatory planning is a prerequisite for citizens and stakeholders to take ownershipinfo-icon of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan and the policies it promotes. It makes public acceptance and support more likely and thus minimises risks for decision-makers and facilitates the plan implementation.


Balanced and integrated development of all transport modes

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan fosters a balanced development of all relevant transport modes, while encouraging a shift towards more sustainable modes. The plan puts forward an integrated set of actions to improve performance and cost effectiveness with regard to the declared goals and objectives. These actions include technical, promotional and market-based measures and services as well as infrastructure.

The following topics are typically addressed in a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan: public transport, non-motorised transport (walking and cycling), intermodalityinfo-icon and door-to-door mobility, urban road safety, flowing and stationary road transport, urban logistics, mobility management, and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).


Horizontal and vertical integration

The development and implementation of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan follows an integrated approach with high level of cooperation and consultation between the different levels of government and relevant authorities.

Integrated planning and implementation encompasses:

a)  A commitment to sustainabilityinfo-icon, i.e. balancing economic development, social equityinfo-icon and environmental quality.

b)  Consultation and cooperation between departments at the local level to ensure consistency and complementarityinfo-icon with policies in related sectors (transport, land use and spatial planning, social services, health, energy, education, enforcement and policing,      etc.).

c)  Close exchange with relevant authorities at other levels of government (e.g. district, municipality, agglomeration, region, and Member State).

d)  Coordination of activities between authorities of neighbouring urban and peri-urban areas (covering the entire ‘functioning city’ defined by major commuter flows).


Assessment of current and future performance

The development of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan focuses on achieving ambitious, measurable targets derived from short-term objectives, aligned with a vision of mobility and embedded in an overall sustainable development strategy.

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan builds on a thorough assessment of the current and future performance of the urban transport system. It provides a comprehensive review of the present situation and the establishment of a baselineinfo-icon against which progress can be measured.

The status analysis includes a review of the current institutional set-up for planning and implementation. Suitable indicators should be identified to describe the current status of the urban transport system.

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan identifies specific performance objectives, which are realistic in view of the current situation in the urban area, as established by the status analysis, and ambitious with regard to the objectives of the plan.

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan sets measurable targets, which are based on a realistic assessment of the baseline and available resources.

Specific indicators are used to measure progress towards targets.


Regular monitoring, review and reporting

The implementation of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is monitored closely. Progress towards the objectives of the plan and meeting the targets are assessed regularly based on the indicatorinfo-icon framework. To this end, appropriate actions are required to ensure timely access to the relevant datainfo-icon and statistics.

The review of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan and its implementation could suggest revisions of targets and where necessary corrective actions.

A Monitoring Report transparently shared and communicated with citizens and stakeholders informs about the progress in developing and implementing the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan.


Consideration of external costs for all transport modes

The development of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan should contain a review of costs and benefits of all transport modes. This should take account of the wider societal costs and benefits, also across sectors, to inform the choice of actions.