Bremen Declaration


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Bremen Declaration

The Bremen Declaration was presented at the 3rd Annual European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in Bremen (Germany) on 12-13 April 2016. The purpose of this document is to place the EU’s sustainable urban mobility planning guidelines firmly in the context of the reality of European cities.

What do you think of it? Do you agree with its eight pillars? Can it be improved? What would you change? 

Please share your views, opinions and suggestions below. Thank you!


Mayors, political representatives and transport experts of numerous municipalities and regions in Europe and beyond, are assembled in Bremen on April 12-13th, 2016 for the 3rd European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans.

While recognising that European guidance documents exist on sustainable urban mobility planning, Bremen and other European cities demonstrate that it is possible to breathe life into a planning document by grounding the plan in the experience and context of a city with all of its large and small challenges. The purpose of this document is to place the EU’s sustainable urban mobility planning guidelines firmly in the context of the reality of European cities.

The third annual SUMP conference focuses on an efficient and people-focused city as a core objective of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning. Following on the conference themes, this declaration emphasises some cornerstones of content and process: 

1. When talking about transport efficiency, look first at efficient use of street space

Street space is a limited and precious resource. Efficient transport means providing accessibility for people and for business activities with a minimum of technical infrastructure. Congestion data demonstrate that walking and cycling are extremely space efficient and cycling cities have low congestion levels. We need to look more closely at more efficient use of space as a starting point for efficient urban transport. 

2. Put people ahead of vehicles

Decades of car-oriented development has claimed more than its share of public space. Liveable streetscapes put walking and cycling at the forefront and the movement of people ahead of the movement of vehicles. Data is often lacking on non-motorised modes of transport – particularly walking. We need to understand what motivates people to use non-motorised modes of transport to foster their use.

3. Address the changing transport challenges for business

Cities are nodes of business development. Trade and services are core activities in cities – requiring transport of people, goods and information. Increasing e-commerce is creating new challenges for delivery transport. We need to combine good logistic concepts, intermodal transport and a range of old and new concepts for clean vehicles – including pedal-powered delivery services – to innovations such as 3-D printers in order to deal with the current and future problems of freight transport.

4. Plan your city and its mobility together

Spatial planning and urban design strongly impact mobility patterns. SUMPs are not a repair shop for carorientated spatial planning but a foundation for future development. A certain density and an orientation toward the needs of sustainable transport modes are pre-requisites for environmentally-friendly travel behaviour. Low-car housing developments can play a role in affordable housing strategies –by reducing the costs of parking infrastructure and removes the running costs of car ownership. We need to better integrate mobility into spatial planning and urban design. 

5. Consider simple solutions first and use technology appropriately

Technology should be used as a tool to achieve goals, not as a driver or as a goal in itself. Wise cities use technology to serve the needs of their citizens. For example, while electric cars can help to achieve climate goals, they do not solve the problems of congestion and space consumption. We need to support and enable the use of the simplest, most efficient modes of transport before promoting less efficient modes. Sometimes no-tech and low tech may be the smartest solution. 

6. Put use ahead of ownership

Urban space suffers under the number of private cars – both moving and parked. Public transport is one form of shared transport but, thanks to new technology, other forms exist today such as ride sharing, bike sharing and car sharing that can help improve transport efficiency, save street space and reduce transport-related emissions. Car sharing helps to reduce the number of cars in our cities. The potential at the European level is huge but unexploited: 500,000 cars could be taken off the road in European cities – but it is not incorporated in European strategies. We need to better integrate the concept of use over ownership into local, national and European strategies. 

7. Enable people to participate in shaping their city

The ultimate goal of SUMP is creating the kind of cities in which people want to live, work, raise families and grow old. In order to achieve this, planning processes should involve as many groups and individuals as possible, ensuring that the needs of under-represented groups are accounted for. New online tools and creative outreach methods can help to make the process more transparent and relevant and to connect people with decision-makers. The process needs to be honest so as not to raise false expectations and so that goals are realistic and achievable. As transport is a politically sensitive subject we need to explain objectives and involve citizens in a transparent way.

8. Be prepared to face future challenges. Urban mobility constantly faces new challenges

Urban mobility constantly faces new challenges. Ongoing digitalisation carries both potential and risks. Autonomous cars are currently being developed but the potential impacts of these technological development s on urban transport systems, which are widely discussed by the media, are not being discussed by municipal and regional governments. Without the early involvement of policy makers, these developments could thwart the goals of many SUMPs. Use of scenarios in plan-making can support the establishment of strategies for dealing with these developments and set a framework for their application. Cities need to be involved in the debates around new technology and its impact on cities in the future. 

This declaration was presented at the 3rd Annual European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in Bremen, Germany, 12-13 April 2016 and will be available for further electronic discussion by a wider audience at until Friday 20 May 2016.

You can download full Bremen Declaration here (opens PDF, 400KB).

2. Put people ahead of vehicles
Very true, but to be successful, it requires a mutual understanding of the needs and possibilities pedestrians, cyclists and car-drivers all have. City mobility authorities need to first understand and then strive for an optimal balance. For example, if pedestrians are to share street space with cars, there should be clear regulations and an ongoing awareness campaign as to how both parties should behave. Without this, frictions or accidents might result.
put people ahead of vehicles

Walter, I think your comment is correct, but the way I understood the point in the declaration, it's not about the needs of the various users but rather about trying to understand what leads a person to switch from one mode (e.g. travel by car) to another (e.g. public transport in combination with walking). I think some good social science research is what's missing to understand the potential for behaviour change. (But if anyone has examples of such research, it would be great if you could share them here.)

Our contribution on Bremen declaration
We think that the 8 cornerstones are an important contribution for the EU sustainable mobility planning. Regarding the planning process, we think that we should focus a little bit more on the importance of decision-makers (8) involvement, for instance taking into account specific initiatives or training needs. Moreover, cities administrations should invest more in innovating the way mobility planning is shaped and organized (eg let planners, mobilty experts, participation facilitators permanently working together and not only to single projects or measures). Another topic that we consider very important (and that it was addressed at the beginning of SUMP) is the internalisation of costs and the Social Return on Investment related to infrastractures or public investments in sustainbale works and infrastructures. Last but not least the theme of citizens "health" is very important to make clearer the importance of SUMP at city level. Giuseppe Mella; Pier Paolo Pentucci (Venice)
what's next?

what will happen next? don't we have a lot of papers, decleartions already? in some cases even a lot would sign it - but will they do something later on? will they be judged if they don't? don't we need a systematic mechanism instead of a decleartion here, a plan there and maybe one or another measure in the end?