ACTIVITY 5.1: Co-create common vision with citizens and stakeholders


By Benjamin Baxter / Updated: 28 Nov 2019


What kind of city do we want to live in? How will it differ from other cities? These are the central questions that need to be answered by a visioning exercise involving all stakeholders and citizens. A visioninfo-icon provides a qualitative description of a desired urban mobilityinfo-icon future and serves to guide the development of appropriate planning measures. It needs to place transport back in the wider context of urban and societal development. In other words, how can transport contribute to a positive future?

The vision should be prepared while taking into account all of the policyinfo-icon perspectives it seeks to address, especially those of existing general city visions or strategic plans, urban and spatial planning, economic development, environmentinfo-icon, social inclusioninfo-icon, genderinfo-icon equityinfo-icon, health, and safety.

To create awareness and broad acceptance, the public should be actively engaged in the vision building process and its outcomes. Citizens should get involved in developing the vision, e.g. via a dedicated workshopinfo-icon. Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning outcomes can only be successful if citizens understand the vision and if they support its broader goals.



  • Agree on a widely supported common vision that builds on the results of the scenarioinfo-icon discussions - a long-term goal for mobility development serves as a guide for the planning process.

  • Broaden the perspective by looking beyond transport and mobility, e.g. at the quality of lifeinfo-icon, health, and land use.

  • Strengthen the local community identity and the public’s collective ownershipinfo-icon of the vision.

  • Emphasise the political value of a SUMP and ensure the commitment of key actors and decision-makers.



  • Establish a representative group of key stakeholders that will be responsible for the development of the vision. This could be the SUMP ‘steering group’ created in Activity 1.4.

  • Prepare, hold and follow up on stakeholderinfo-icon meetings. Different formats can be useful to achieve an open, respectful and fruitful dialogue (see visioning methods below, and Activity 1.4 for an overview of formats). At the first meeting, provide basic information to stakeholders to ensure a common level of knowledge. This should include information on any existing visions, as well as the results of the mobility analysis (Step 3) and the scenarios (Step 4). Use maps, visualisations and concrete examples from other cities as much as possible to inspire the discussions.

  • Avoid secrecy and corporatism: use public hearings and make notes from stakeholder meetings public to guarantee transparencyinfo-icon.

  • Consider engaging citizens directly in the development of the vision, e.g. via meetings or workshops similar to the stakeholder meetings. At the very minimum, you should actively inform citizens about the vision building process (e.g. in a public relations campaign) and provide them with the possibility to give feedback on the draft vision. Take all contributions seriously, but be clear and open beforehand that not all suggestions can be followed and that decisions will have to be taken based on opinions that often contradict one another.

  • Elaborate a draft vision that covers the entire urban agglomeration and all relevant aspects of sustainabilityinfo-icon, such as road safety, accessibilityinfo-icon, liveability, noise and air quality. It should also take into account all modes and forms of transport, namely public and private; passenger and freight; motorised and non-motorised; and moving and stationary. Consider the results and discussions of scenarios when drafting the vision, e.g. by including the scenario or elements of scenarios that showed the best results and were most widely supported.

  • Keep decision makers in the loop. Consider discussing the draft vision with leading politicians from all parties, which can also happen in informal meetings, to achieve broad ownership of the vision. It can be useful to conduct simple opinion polls with the public; the trends that these reveal can serve as arguments for convincing political decision-makers.

  • Discuss the draft vision and feedback from citizens and decision-makers with stakeholders and agree on a final version.

  • Publish the vision in a format that is easy to understand and use visualisations to communicate it. Disseminate the vision document widely, including by using the media (local press, radio, TV, social media).


Timing and coordination

  • Builds on the mobility analysis (Step 3) and scenarios (Step 4).

  • Scenarios and visions are strongly related, and the sequence of developing them can vary between different contexts or even run in parallel.


What is a ‘Vision’?

A vision is a qualitative description of a desired urban future that serves to guide the development of objectives, strategic indicators, and targets and the selection of suitable measures throughout the SUMP process. It usually has a long-term horizon - that can even go beyond the timeframe of the SUMP, envisioning situations in 20-30 years.



✔ Stakeholder group for vision development established.
✔ Citizens actively involved in the vision building process.
✔ The first draft of the vision developed and discussed with citizens and decision-makers.
✔ Stakeholder agreement on the final draft of vision.
✔ Vision outcomes documented.


Future search workshop

There are many formats to involve stakeholders and citizens in the visioning process. One of them is a Future Search Workshop. The three-day workshop is designed to bring all important stakeholders together to create a common ground. In a condensed process of 17 hours, participants work mostly in small groups to co-create a vision. Ideally, you should gather a diverse group of around 50 to 60 stakeholders, including decision-makers, planners, researchers, and representatives of all important groups.

A Future Search Workshop is typically built around three themes:

  1. Diagnosis: Take a look back in time to analyse how the current mobility situation has developed. Then look to the future by exploring structural trends that are likely to influence mobility patterns in the future.

  2. The future we want: Define the ideal future situation and share these amongst the other participants. Common ground is sought and principles of actions to reach the desired future are outlined. Any differences and disagreements are also collected.

  3. Action planinfo-icon: In the final step of the process, the focus is put on the formulation of concrete projects and actions, based on the visions developed in the previous phase.

Figure 22: The three themes of a Future Search Workshop (Source: Adell, E., Ljungberg, C., 2014, The Poly-SUMP Methodology, p. 21)

For more information, see the Poly-SUMP Guidelines and the Practical guide on running a Future Search Workshop:


Towards cities of places

The CREATE project has studied city authorities’ policy perspectives in the past 50 to 60 years. Historically, they identified three distinct visions. In most Western European cities, these perspectives have broadly followed a three-stage sequential process: what begins as a car-oriented city becomes a sustainable mobility city and then later a city of places. In practice, the shift is much less clear-cut, with overlaps and sometimes short term reversals of policy following an election. The three stages usually also co-exist in a city at the same point in time but in different parts of the urban area. Place- oriented policies tend to start in the central areas and then spread outwards towards the suburbs, where car-oriented perspectives dominate longer. While the exact timeline can be complex and varies from city to city, it is clear that there is a general trend towards place-based visions.


Figure 23: Urban mobility visions with their typical types of policy measures

Typical objectives of place-based visions, which may inspire vision building in your city, are to create:

  • mobility services that enable everyone to move freely and safely around the area without undue delay, mainly using sustainable modes of transport.

  • land-use patterns that support high-frequency and high-quality public transport services on main corridors, and offer sufficient local diversityinfo-icon that residents can walk or cycle to access services that fulfil their daily needs.

  • cities that are liveable and provide safe and attractive places (streets, interchanges, etc.) where people can take part in economic, social and community activities.

  • successful achievement of wider urban policy objectives, such as regeneration, good public health and wellbeing, and community cohesion.

  • governanceinfo-icon arrangements that facilitate or support change, such as knowledge and expertise, enforcement mechanisms, integrated transport planning, business models, etc.

Source: Peter Jones et al., 2018, CREATE project summary and recommendations for cities:


More info: 

Good Practice Example: Leuven, Belgium

Widely accepted Leuven Climate Vision


With the expression of the importance to work towards climate neutrality, the signature of the Covenant of Mayors by Leuven’s mayor and the initiation of a consultation process, the city of Leuven created the association Leuven Climate Neutral 2030 (or Leuven 2030). This association provides the framework for defining a general long-term vision for the city. The association’s membership represents all sectors of society, with the municipality heavily involved in the process as well. The goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is also reflected in the local SUMP. It sets targets for doubling the modal share of cycling and public transport and reducing the use of cars in Leuven by 20% by 2030.


Author: Tim Asperges, City of Leuven, collected by Polis

Good Practice Example: Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg, Sweden: A “Vision Zero” approach for road safety


Gothenburg, a city of 570,000 inhabitants, has, along with the rest of Sweden, adopted a long-term “Vision Zero” approach to road deaths and serious injuries. The city’s intermediate targets are to reduce the annual number of road deaths from 9 to 3 and the number of serious and moderate injuries from 227 to 75 over the period of 2010-2020. In 1978, Gothenburg had one speed-hump. In 2019, there are around 2500 traffic calming measures, and citizens are asking for more. Traffic calming, together with the separation of active modes of transport from motorised traffic, contributed to the fact that 80% of the injuries sustained on the city’s roads do not involve a car.


Author: Dirk Engels, Transport & Mobility Leuven, collected by Rupprecht Consult

Good Practice Example: Madrid, Spain

Defining objectives for the peripheral areas


The new Madrid SUMP has a strong focus on the regeneration of the city’s most vulnerable suburbs. The objectives of the plan were defined based on a set of participatory activities with neighbours to collect needs or problems in the different peripheral districts. Furthermore, a full day of structured dialogue was organised with technicians, experts, associations and groups of citizens to present the working strategic lines of the mobility plan, analyse specific problems, and propose possible approaches or solutions. The new SUMP will develop pilot actions to make the action lines of the plan visible in the city, evaluate them, and easily reproduce them in other parts of the city.


Author: Cristina Moliner Hormigos, Madrid City Council, collected by EUROCITIES