Online workshop: “Municipal perspectives: for the promotion of sustainable mobility in the Upper Rhine Region”

On the 7th of December 2020, the SuMo-Rhine project team organised another online workshop on municipal perspectives on the initiative of Dr Eckhard Szimba (KIT-ECON), Dr Kira Schumacher and Nora Baumgartner (both, KIT-DFIU). The workshop focused on sustainable urban mobility and mobility concepts.

Dr Kira Schumacher welcomed 16 participants from Germany and France. Thanks to the simultaneous translation, the participants were able to follow the workshop in their preferred language. After the presentation of the Interreg project “SuMo-Rhine” by Nora Baumgartner, Prof. Dr Kay Mitusch held a keynote speech in which he gave insights into the work of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and its perspective on urban mobility of the future.

Dr Eckhard Szimba then presented the results of his work on the analysis of political framework conditions and challenges in the Upper Rhine region. With this information, the participants went into a virtual coffee kitchen, which gave the participants the opportunity to talk to other participants in small groups. Strengthened by the coffee break, the participants discussed concepts for sustainable urban mobility and their practical experiences at a virtual round table which was moderated by Dr Eckhard Szimba.

In summary, the following conclusions can be formulated from the presentations and discussions:

  • Urban transport planning is oriented towards both the requirements of the users of urban transport services (e.g., good accessibility, high reliability) and the requirements of urban society (e.g., high quality of stay and air). As many measures for more sustainable urban mobility raise conflicting goals, it is important that citizens and stakeholders are actively involved in political decision-making processes at the municipal level.
  • The digitalisation of transport is seen as an important policy field for municipal transport planning. In this context, it is essential that not only the potentials but also undesired effects (e.g., induced traffic, exclusion of older population groups) are identified before the policy measure is implemented. After a careful inventory of the effects, the introduction of a policy in the area of digitalisation can, if necessary, be flanked by further measures in order to avoid undesirable effects.
  • As municipal transport is always embedded in a wider spatial context (e.g., transit traffic, connection to long-distance transport networks), different policy levels (from EU to municipal level) need to cooperate well to improve the sustainability of municipal transport.
  • Nevertheless, cities and municipalities need sufficient room for manoeuvre to develop and test new mobility concepts and concepts for the usage of public space in close cooperation with citizens, e.g., within the framework of real-world laboratories.
  • Public and easily available data on mobility offers, demand and infrastructure are seen as an important prerequisite for the development of new services. Further efforts are needed to ensure that the increasing number of private actors also make their data available in public portals.
  • When planning policy measures for improved sustainability of municipal transport, scientific expertise can provide valuable decision support with the help of impact analyses.
  • In the survey conducted at the end of the virtual roundtable, the majority of the workshop participants (64%) are of the opinion that the COVID-19 pandemic is neither an accelerator nor a brake for sustainable mobility in cities and municipalities. 18% of the participants see the pandemic as an accelerator and 18% as a brake.

Dr Kira Schumacher concluded the workshop with a short feedback round.

On behalf of the entire SuMo-Rhine team, we would like to thank all participants.