Project Logo

HUPMOBILE discuss the future of urban mobility

HUPMOBILE Online Conference held on November 26 and 27, 2020, welcomed 46 different participants, from 27 cities and 12 countries - ranging from Finland in the north to Namibia in the south, and from Portugal in the west to Malaysia in the east.  During both days of the conference, participants were involved in very constructive and engaging discussions.

Interreg BSR HUPMOBILE project and its scope were introduced to the audience by Tero Haahtela, Aalto University, and Heike Bunte, Free and Hanseatic City Hamburg City - Borough of Altona.  The Q&A sessions as well as further discussions were moderated by Dennis Stocksmeier, Planersocietät.

Photo by Nomadic Julien

On day one the keynote speech by Manfred Neun (Sustainable Strategy Planning, Memmingen Institute, former chairman of European Cyclists’ Federation) provided an overview of the concept of Fusion Mobility. The topic was further discussed among partners. It can be noted that Fusion Mobility was currently seen by the participants as a theoretical construct that further develops the Active Mobility approach. However, the integration of Fusion Mobility into the day-to-day operations of municipalities may still be challenging. From the participants' point of view, pilot projects should be launched in cities to gain further insights to find out how Fusion Mobility can be embedded in the mobility planning of cities and what synergies it can offer with Active Mobility and Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPS).

“Together, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the human rights, and the European Green Deal (EGD) provide a background and orientation for an analysis of future development of sustainable mobility based on prioritizing our active, upright gait in walking, and its active mobile extension in cycling.” Manfred Neun

The keynote and discussion were followed by short introductory sessions that showcased the challenges and best practices obtained during the implementation of the sustainable mobility initiatives within cities.

Heike Bunte (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg - Borough of Altona) reported on cycling in the harbor of Hamburg. Since Hamburg is growing, certain areas within the city need to be revitalized. In Hamburg, it led to an inevitable need to “Jump over the River Elbe”. Planning infrastructure for Active Mobility in the harbor area is a long-lasting process. For example, there are different safety solutions for each road user that need to be taken into account.

Alena Werner (Hanseatic Transport Consultancy) introduced the micro hubs for the last-mile concept as an innovative solution that will change the urban landscape. The City of Hamburg has already started several pilot projects in the city center and other districts. Micro Hubs are fixed points where packages can be picked up or delivered from. They can contribute to lowering CO2 emissions and noise pollution while being part of the solution for the last mile problem, too.

Alena Büttner (German Environment Agency) presented the reasons why a national strategy for the promotion of pedestrian traffic is essential. Climate change mitigation, noise, and air pollution reduction, and limited capacity in public transport are the main problems of modern cities and societies. The challenge is that there are multiple levels of government, different departments, and various stakeholders needed for the promotion of walking, and there is a lack of communication due to this multitude of stakeholders.

Dr. Susanne Elfferding (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg) described that it is not as easy as it sounds to find supporters in departments and districts to develop a city-wide walking strategy because each district has different capacities as well as scarce resources. Dr. Elfferding talked about a guideline that could make this possible. In the city of Hamburg, a political contract is the first step. It is also essential to organize a network to connect all the vital stakeholders for cooperation.  The next step would be defining the tasks and identifying short and mid-term projects as well as “low hanging fruits” and possible landmark projects.All in all, it is not much about technical details, but more of a process.

As the last flashlight session of the day, Johanna Fink (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg – Borough of Altona) talked about the Commuting Master Plan which is a policy document that guides the development of daily mobility in an urban region and the whole functional area regardless of administrative or organizational borders. It focuses on a participatory process of intermodal and cross-boundary commuting and evidence-based planning.

Image by Dr.Angela Francke

Day two was dominated by discussions on how COVID-19 has affected mobility in the city boundaries. Key-note speech delivered by Dr. Angela Francke, Technical University of Dresden, shed the light on the insights derived from her study on the change of mobility behavior during COVID-19 restrictions and the future development of mobility.

“The risk of infecting oneself or others was frequently cited as the reason for a modal shift.”  Dr. Angela Francke

The presentation of the study was followed by the questions and discussions that focused primarily on the significance of the restrictions that COVID-19 will have on people's daily mobility.  The issue was further discussed in three break-out rooms. Although no agreement was made in advance on topics to be discussed in detail, the focus has been nevertheless defined in break-out rooms.

While room number one mainly concentrated on the topic of bicycle and other micro-mobility rental systems and their potentials during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, room two ended up discussing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mobility of people. Room three, on the other hand, was dominated by the question "Censorship or Chance”?

The participants of break-out rooms concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions that arose to hold its spread represent an opportunity for more sustainable development in the future since people's mobility and habits have already changed. However, COVID-19 and related restrictions are also a major risk, because public transport, in particular, could face a significant challenge to regain people's trust. Likewise, the observed rise in the numbers of private passenger car use must be curtailed as best as possible in the future. Cities and transportation planners alike are facing challenges in this regard, but they should be well advised to move forward courageously promoting active mobility and the possibilities of digitalization for the best possible linkage of sustainable forms of mobility

Cover photo by Moritz Kindler