ACTIVITY 2.3: Agree timeline and work plan


By Ash Oyofo / Updated: 28 Nov 2019


Ensuring the right timing and a clear work plan are key to success. The activities to develop a Sustainable Urban Mobility Planinfo-icon partly depend on each other – interdependencies need to be carefully translated into a logical sequence that is harmonised with local conditions. When determining the timing, it is crucial to consider ongoing planning and policyinfo-icon-making activities that can affect the process, such as elections, legislation processes, and other planning activities.

Developing and implementing a SUMP is also a complex process institutionally. It usually requires revision of planning practices and working across boundaries. These management arrangements need a political mandate to make them widely accepted. A work plan that indicates all milestones and clearly defines which involved actors do what and when should be approved.



  • Develop a tailored planning process that fits the local context and coordinates activities well.

  • Strive for harmonisation of the timing with different technical and political decision-making processes (e.g. overall strategies, sectoral plans, elections). Identify time windows for coordination.

  • Clarify and formalise the roles of all actors and their resourceinfo-icon contributions.

  • Create reliability and transparencyinfo-icon of the planning process.

  • Facilitate an efficient planning process that considers temporal interdependencies among activities, minimises risks related to timing and makes optimum use of resources.



  • Take sufficient time to prepare the planning process well. The time needed to achieve a decision to develop a SUMP, set up working structures and define the planning framework varies a lot between cities. It will to a large extent depend on a city’s experience with strategic planning processes, institutional structures, the political context, and the local ‘planning culture’.

  • Define a timeframe for SUMP development, including the phases of analysis, strategyinfo-icon development, and measureinfo-icon planning. In total, cities tend to require at least one year from the official start of the planning process until adoption, usually more.

    • The analysis usually takes around two to six months, but can also be longer if a lot of additional datainfo-icon has to be collected;

    • Strategy development (including visioninfo-icon, objectives, and targets) usually takes around two to five months;

    • Measure planning (from the initial identification of potential measures until the agreed-upon set of measure packages, with defined financing and responsibilities, that are included in a finalised SUMP document) usually takes around three to eight months. But this depends strongly on the level of detail at which measures are prepared in the SUMP process.

    • Usually, some extra time is needed for the SUMP to be adopted once it is ready. This varies a lot depending on the political circumstances, ranging from just a few weeks to half a year or more. Good integrationinfo-icon of decision-makers into the planning process helps to lower the risk of delays for adoption.

  • Take into consideration potentially challenging periods (e.g. elections or budget planning periods). In the months before an election, it may be difficult to move ahead quickly. This may influence the timing of the planning process.

  • Calculate some ‘quiet’ working periods in order to make the general planning more flexible and to avoid severe delays. In addition, remember to include the time needed for communication as well as stakeholderinfo-icon and citizeninfo-icon involvement.

  • Communicate a provisional timeline so that involved actors can schedule in time for their contributions.

  • Continue to implement measures with high visibility during plan preparation and SUMP development. This helps to avoid the impression of inactivity, which is particularly important for decision-makers.

  • Choose a preliminary timeframe for measure implementation, which will be defined in more detail in the measure planning phase.

  • Focus on the next two-three years in your detailed planning, but also do rough planning for the next 10 years and be aware of long-term measures that will start during the 10-year period and continue after (e.g. major projects, such as the construction of a tram line).

  • Some cities prefer to define their timeframe through important milestones and do not use exact time frames. An example would be the opening of a new bus rapid transit line, and measures that will be implemented before and after the opening. This can help to stay realistic about the temporal framework and makes it easier to follow for the city and the public.

  • Build in time for monitoringinfo-icon and updating measures after SUMP adoption (see also Activity 11.1). The frequency for reviewing and updating depends on your individual situation, also taking into account legal requirements and election cycles, but should be done at least every second year.

  • Consider reviewing and updating the full SUMP every five to 10 years. After 10 years the document is usually outdated, while the measures should be updated much more frequently.

Figure 17: Relative time requirements of the SUMP Steps.

The visualisation of the 12 Steps presents the relative amount of time needed to complete a respective step in relation to all other steps in a typical SUMP process. For example, the management of the implementation process usually requires most of the time in the implementation and monitoring phase, and is linked to the monitoring step. The arrows present typical feedback loops, e.g. if in Step 8 it becomes obvious that certain measures require too much capacity, the selected measure packages might need to be readjusted in Step 7. (This Figure is not based on exact measurements and only aims to be an orientation for planners.)


Work Plan:
  • Reinforce the political mandate for the development of a SUMP. Ensure that decision-makers broadly agree that sustainabilityinfo-icon principles should be core to the SUMP when they take the formal decision to proceed with the planning process. This means a focus on the environmental and social benefits of mobilityinfo-icon, not merely on better traffic flow.

  • Draft an overall work plan for the SUMP process that indicates all necessary milestones. Maintain certain flexibility to amend the work plan as the work progresses.

  • Develop approaches to overcome barriers and fully exploit the drivers for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (informed by the results of self-assessmentinfo-icon from Activity 1.1).

  • Agree on management procedures and tasks with stakeholders responsible for planning tasks (also within your own organisation).

  • Assess risks and plan for relevant contingencies.

  • Monitor progress, enforce work plan implementation and adapt to changes.


Activities beyond essential requirements

  • Consider branding (e.g. name, logo) your planning process to achieve professional and recognisable visibility in all public communication and events throughout the process.

Details on the tasks

The development process of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is usually set up as a local project, which is also given a specific title. It is reasonable to use the English terminology. However, this can generate resistance among stakeholders and the public in non-English-speaking countries. To avoid this, it is advisable to select a (local) specific term, which is confirmed by stakeholders or defined together. Using an appropriate term is also important to create acceptance for participationinfo-icon and the process. It is also possible to name the process directly as the final product if a specific title has already been chosen (see Activity 9.1 “Brand your Plan”).


Timing and coordination

  • Timeline defined after working structures are set up and planning requirements analysed, but before starting the mobility analysis.

  • Continuous fine-tuning of timing for specific activities (e.g. press releases, meeting calendar).

  • Adoption of work plan as a milestone before starting the official SUMP development.



✔ Realistic basic timeline for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning process prepared.
✔ Political mandate for developing your SUMP confirmed.
✔ Strategy for risk management and quality managementinfo-icon devised.
✔ Timeline and work plan developed and politically approved.