With hundreds of thousands of citizens trying to get around, how can a modern metropolis provide safe, sustainable and smart transport solutions? And how can citizens be persuaded to protect their health and their city by taking advantage of such schemes?
Concrete steps were expounded at a conference with about 700 participants representing cities from Poland and around the world in Warsaw last week, ‘Innovative ecocities – healthy environment, healthy people’, in a session on smart transport moderated by Sharing Cities’ Bernadett Köteles-Degrendele. Warsaw, Lisbon and Milan, all involved in the Sharing Cities project, as well as Saint Brieuc, shared the keys to transforming a city’s mobility landscape.
Audacity of ambition
Marcin Wróblewski of Warsaw opened the session by sharing the ‘audacious’ goals of the Sharing Cities programme, including triggering a shift in thinking, attracting external investment and the promotion of e-mobility. Mr Wróblewski went on to present the great strides that Warsaw, a fellow city of Sharing Cities, has made, both in terms of past achievements and projects which are ongoing or planned for the future.
The last decade has seen Warsaw make a serious push towards a sustainable future, being a founding member of the Covenant of Mayors, electrifying its busses and spreading an enthusiasm for bikes amongst its citizens. Indeed, in between 2011-2014 they already lowered their emissions by almost 10%!
The momentum is contagious
So how does Warsaw get citizens to use its 5,000 public bikes (100 of them electric)? The first, and perhaps most important step is making it safe and convenient with almost 500 km of bicycle paths, so that cyclists can claim their fair share of the road.
Despite their enthusiasm, there have been challenges for Warsaw, as the current national government is not as active as the local government in the promotion of green goals. The city’s ambition to clean up their bus fleet initially met with little support, but Warsaw’s commitment has had momentum and the current government has promised to move things forward. Indeed, an agreement has just been signed on a €81 million plan to introduce more electric buses to the increasingly green fleet.
If you build it, they will come
Next, Valentino Sevino explained how his city, Milan, has reduced the quantity of private cars to only a 30% share of the half a million daily trips. The stars of this achievement have been the bike and car sharing programmes that have made sustainable and efficient transport easier than ever for citizens to access.
Milan has introduced the world to the first ever two in one public bike station, where citizens can choose between traditional or electric bikes. Numbers of subscribers to the public bikes have soared, increasing by almost 500% over the last seven years, culminating in over 3.5 million bike rentals in 2016. Converting all those potential car rides to bike rides has meant almost 3 million fewer kilograms of CO2 in Milan’s atmosphere in one year!
Emboldened by this success, Milan are moving ahead with ‘free-floating’ public bikes which will not be locked into stations but will instead be scattered around the city. They have also developed Italy’s first public scooter sharing service, and contracted six providers to supply the city with thousands of public, shareable cars, many of which are electric.
Parking made easy
Building upon this talk, Nuno shared Lisbon’s developments in low-emission mobility solutions. As well as their own bike, car and scooter sharing systems, Lisbon focussed on further methods to encourage citizens to protect their health and that of their city. As one comes closer to the centre of the city, green, yellow and red areas respectively increase the price of parking your car, and they even have a handy app citizens can pay with. By building park and ride facilities, they have made it easy for commuters to leave their cars outside the city and connect to public transport hubs.
Everything at your fingertips
Meanwhile, their public transport network, as a result of €60 million of investment have added 250 new electric buses that rule the city via seven high-performance bus corridors. Other electric vehicles can now take advantage of 550 charging points throughout the city, and they get free parking! Finally, their integrated mobility platform allows information, payments and services to move between transport operators and citizens through their mobile phone. Need to park your car, rent a bike, or find out when the next train is coming? It’s all at the tip of your fingers!
Following a presentation from the French city of Saint Brieuc, the Sharing Cities lighthouse cities, facilitated by EUROCITIES, led brainstorming sessions with the session’s participants. They discussed their own goals for their city’s mobility, and with the help of Sharing Cities, began to unlock the paths to achieving those goals.
For the complete photo gallery of the event click here
Video of the opening ceremony with panel discussion and awarding ceremony in the competition Eco-City
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement N°691895
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