ACTIVITY 6.2 - Agree measurable targets


By Benjamin Baxter / Updated: 28 Nov 2019


Targets represent a concrete form of commitment in a Sustainable Urban Mobility Planinfo-icon, stating what you want to achieve and by when. Setting clear targets has two main purposes. Firstly, it provides transparencyinfo-icon and clear guidance as to how you want to change transport and mobilityinfo-icon in the city. Secondly, it allows cities to understand the extent to which objectives are to be achieved. If strategic core indicators and targets are well-defined, decision makers and the public will be able to easily understand them and they can be an incentive to achieve better results.



  • Decide on a set of measurable targets for each of the agreed-upon strategic indicators (see Activity 6.1), covering all of your objectives.

  • Make sure that the agreed-upon targets can assess the achievement of desired outcomes.

  • Express feasible, but ambitious targets.

  • Ensure that the targets are mutually compatible.


SMART Targets
  • Specific – precisely described using quantitative and/or qualitative terms that are understood by all stakeholders.

  • Measurable – the current situation has been measured and is known. Resources are also in place to measureinfo-icon the changes (qualitative and quantitative) that occur.

  • Achievable – based on the technical, operational and financial competencies available and the stakeholderinfo-icon agreements/ commitments that have been made.

  • Relevant – stresses the importance of choosing targets that matter, drive urban mobility forward, and support or are in alignment with other targets.

  • Time-bound – key dates for the achievement of the targetinfo-icon are clearly defined.



  • Set targets for each of the strategic core indicators (selected in Activity 6.1) to allow for the monitoringinfo-icon of progress towards the achievement of objectives. Targets should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Be ambitious, but realistic, assessing what can be achieved.

    • Start by defining targets for the strategic indicators, which directly measure the desired extent of achievement of each of the sustainabilityinfo-icon objectives (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions from transport reduced by 30% within 10 years). Furthermore, include intermediate targets that represent milestones towards the long-term targets (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions from transport reduced by 15% within 5 years).

    • Then set targets for the core transport activity indicators, which measure the extent to which the transport system has improved (e.g. share of sustainable transport modes above 70% within 10 years; or number of kilometres of high-quality bus lanes implemented within the next 10 years).

    • Aim to avoid inconsistencies between indicators.

  • Involve key stakeholders in target setting, as this will ensure that targets are widely supported and realistic. However, be careful not to let lobby groups block ambitious change that serves the majority of people. Prepare, conduct, and follow-up working group meetings.

  • Make the targets a part of the SUMP document to formally adopt them (see Activity 9.1).


Details on the tasks

Be ambitious but realistic!
In many cities, targets for urban transport and mobility reflect wishful thinking rather than what can realistically be achieved. This is counterproductive. While it is good to be ambitious, you also need to assess honestly what can be achieved considering the given resources and expertise.


Modal Split

Definition: The modal split can be defined as the share of people using a particular mode of transport within the overall transport usage in an urban area. The modal split of each of the different modes of transport is typically displayed as a percentage value. It can be calculated for passenger and freight transport, based on different units (e.g., number of trips, volume, weight, passenger-km or tonne-km), but it can also be calculated for different geographic areas (e.g. the functional urban area, city center, district). [ref:49]

‘Show me your modal split - and I know your city’ might sound exaggerated, but in some ways it might be true. Cities want to know how the people within the city get around, not only to get a picture of the transport system. Therefore, the first approach is to collect datainfo-icon and then calculate and take a look at the modal split. This is what numerous cities do worldwide, which makes having a global target for modal split highly valuable for a shift towards sustainable modes. The modal split might not be clearly defined or consistently measured in every city, but it still acts as a globally-understandable value that is of high significance. On the one hand, it plays an important role for defining the baselineinfo-icon of the transport system of a city. On the other hand, the modal split supports setting ambitious targets for a shift in the current value, and to also compare it with other cities. For example, London has set the ambitious target of having 80% of all trips by residents to be made using sustainable modes of transport (walking, cycling and public transport) by 2041.

In the context of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning, the modal split can be a part of the analysis of the current mobility situation, but it can also represent one of the major targets used to evaluate progress made towards sustainable mobility. For example, if you see an increase in cycling trips, you did not only come closer to achieving the overall visioninfo-icon of a bicycle-friendly city, but you can also measure the progress of reaching your target of 10% higher bicycle share. The modal split can be seen as an overarching target that is recommended to be integrated in the SUMP. The modal split not only makes it possible for you to compare changes in the transport system over time, but it also allows you to measure specific trip purposes or even focus on different citizeninfo-icon groups, thereby allowing you to observe mobility behaviour based on genderinfo-icon, age, etc.


Activities beyond essential requirements

  • Use localised targets within the urban agglomeration (such as for the city centre, industrial or commercial areas, individual neighbourhoods, etc.) to take into account locally varying transport behaviour patterns and travel opportunities.


Timing and coordination

  • Directly based on strategic indicators identified in Activity 6.1.

  • Targets help you to define and achieve the desired performance of the SUMP (see Activities 11.1 and 12.1).



✔ Key stakeholders involved in target setting.
✔ Suitable set of locally achievable targets developed.


What is a ‘Target’?

Targets are the expression of an aimed-for value of a strategic indicatorinfo-icon. More specifically, they define what should be achieved, in comparison to the current situation, by a specific year. Targets should be ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).


A good SUMP often includes targets related to public health, which can be closely linked to targets about road safety, air and noise pollution, or the increased use of active modes of transport. One example of a health-related targets comes from the SUMP of Vienna (STEP2025):

The proportion of the Vienna population that undertakes 30 minutes’ physical activity as part of their daily travel will increase from 23% in 2013 to 30% in 2025.”

More information on how public health fits in with Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning can be found in the Topic Guide on Linking transport and health in Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning.



Milestone: Vision, objectives and targets agreed

With reaching the third milestone - halfway through the planning cycle - you have completed the strategic phase of your Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. Many important decisions regarding the future vision, the city’s objectives, and the strategic indicators and targets have been taken, which together form the strategic priorities of the SUMP. These results can now be consolidated in a summary document, which will provide a stable guiding framework for the measure planning phase. Before entering the next phase, you should consider getting feedback from citizens on your strategic priorities once more, who will have already provided important input during the discussion of scenarios, creation of a vision, and, sometimes, also the definition of objectives. This validates your strategic priorities and ensures public support and acceptance. If possible, you should also get the strategic priorities adopted by decision makers (e.g. in the local councils) to establish an even more solid base for the measure phase.



More info: 


Strategic targets developed by intensive round table process


The 2025 targets for mobility and transport development in Dresden were elaborated by stakeholders in an intensive roundtable process. The SUMP roundtable created a consensual paper of transport development targets, agreed by all stakeholders and adopted with little modification by the City Council in March 2011. The selected targets formed the basis for SUMP elaboration. For both SUMP elaboration and implementation, it was crucial to have politically adopted targets in order to plan with certainty and ensure a high level of acceptance. The initial SUMP evaluation in 2018 showed that for further improvement in the future, the SUMP should include more targets.


Author: Kerstin Burggraf, City of Dresden, collected by EUROCITIES


Three key targets for traffic development


During the SUMP process, Örebro set three targets for traffic development by the year 2020: (1) to increase the share of cycling, walking and public transport to 60% of all trips (from 44% in 2011), (2) to decrease the absolute numbers of fossil fuel-driven cars and (3) to improve the travel time quota between car, bus and cycling. In the process of setting the targets, one step was to reflect on how to monitor them. Örebro considered which indicators the city already measures and reports annually, and which indicators could be provided by the national statistics office. As a lesson learned, the key success factor is to choose targets that can be relatively easily evaluated and/or evaluated with a certain interval according to the ordinary monitoring of traffic indicators.


Author: Lovisa Blomér, City of Örebro, collected by UBC