ACTIVITY 8.4: Ensure wide political and public support


By Tom Wood / Updated: 28 Nov 2019


The actions are the most concrete part of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Planinfo-icon. They directly affect local residents and are therefore usually the most controversial aspects of the process. For example, while it may be agreed easily that an active cycling policyinfo-icon is good for the city (i.e. on the strategic level), and a cycling infrastructure in a certain corridor is supported by a majority (i.e. on the measureinfo-icon level), the specific actions planned by the department in charge of construction (e.g. conversion of roadside parking in a certain street to create a cycling lane) may create controversy. To facilitate effective implementation of actions later on, it is therefore important to ensure wide political and public support throughout measure and action planning - and well before SUMP adoption. After involving citizens in the development of measures and measure packages (see Activity 7.1 and 7.2), the planned actions should be at a very minimum communicated publicly, giving citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback before final decisions are taken. Ideally, they get actively involved in the agreement of actions and feel it is ‘their’ SUMP with ‘their’ measures and actions, and understand its role in improving mobilityinfo-icon and quality of lifeinfo-icon for everyone.



  • Ensure ownershipinfo-icon and high acceptance of your planned actions among decision makers, citizens and other stakeholders.

  • Provide transparencyinfo-icon around planned actions.

  • Facilitate adoption of the SUMP and effective implementation of actions later on.



  • Communicate in a transparent and professional way the main elements of the SUMP, in particular the planned actions.

  • Actively inform and get feedback from decision makers. Consider organizing a dedicated information session in the local council well ahead of the official process to adopt the SUMP. Direct conversations with key decision makers, such as mayors and the heads of larger political parties, can also give you important information on how to widen the political support and facilitate adoption.

  • Actively involve and get feedback from important stakeholders, for example in a meeting of the SUMP ‘steering group’.

  • Actively involve and get feedback from citizens on actions, for example in the form of a public debate evening (see Figure 14 on tools and methods for citizeninfo-icon engagementinfo-icon).

  • Make the main elements of the SUMP, including its most important actions, a topic in the local media. When communicating the actions, emphasise the positive change they contribute to and their role in the SUMP. If possible, use quantifiable evidence of expected benefits and attractive visual elements, such as before-after pictures from other cities. A common risk is that only those negatively affected get active. Specific communication efforts are therefore recommended to also activate those that benefit among the general public.

  • Be clear at all times about what a local authorityinfo-icon can realistically do and what it cannot (expectation management).


Activities beyond essential requirements

  • When facing strong political objections, for example in the case of government change during SUMP development, emphasise the benefits and the time and resources already invested in the SUMP. The analogy of a bridge can help to communicate this point: Just as a bridge started by one government is usually continued by the next one, also a SUMP should be, because it is a costly long-term project serving the city as a whole.


Timing and coordination

  • At least prior to finalising and adopting the SUMP, but better in parallel to all activities in Step 8.



✔ Public relations and involvement activities planned and carried out.
✔ Information and opportunity for feedback provided to decision makers, citizens and other stakeholders and provided feedback considered for agreement of actions.


For some types of actions, gaining wide public acceptance can be especially challenging. Parking is such a topic that various road users tend to have strong opinions on (e.g. residents, visitors, logistics companies). The challenge for local authorities is increased as these user groups do not share the same expectations and needs towards the parking system in terms of costs, availability and capacity. Therefore, public acceptance is a major challenge and the only feasible way to get people to accept new parking management measures is to show them that “it will get better”. Be very clear about how the measures work and how much – if anything – people will have to pay and explain what any new parking revenues will be used for. Helpful tools and further guidance can be found in the Practitioner Briefing Parking and Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning.


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Public debate evenings, stakeholder meetings and public consultation


Ghent applied three different engagement formats to its SUMP:
(1) public debate evenings where citizens discussed the draft SUMP, guided by a facilitator; (2) an extensive consultation round with stakeholders; (3) a one-month public inquiry process allowing every citizen and organisation to send comments concerning the SUMP. This was the most extensive participation process Ghent had carried out in mobility planning. Using multiple engagement formats allowed the SUMP team to reach people from various backgrounds and ages and strengthened public support for the plan and its measures. To inform citizens and connect them, the city also created a dedicated newspaper “de wijze gazet”.
Author: Merijn Gouweloose, City of Ghent, collected by EUROCITIES


Bi-annual political committee to steer parking policies on a metropolitan level


The Métropole Européenne de Lille has set up a Parking Committee so that political and technical representatives of the metropolitan level (i.e. the MEL) and municipal level (i.e. 95 municipalities) can reach agreement on parking policies. This committee’s main goal is “to adopt a shared vision on the parking policy, at the metropolitan scale [...] so to control car use and give public space back to people.” The participation of all public authorities in an institutional framework allows for reaching political consensus. The transparency and neutrality of the framework is a major factor of success. The Committee plans to produce a white book on parking which will define the principles for parking policy to be integrated in the SUMP.
Author: Ellie Deloffre and Olivier Asselin, Métropole Européenne de Lille, collected by Polis