Improving mobility in the city through research

January 31, 2002

Brussels, 30 January 2002

Invitation to a Press Conference

Brussels - European Parliament, 31 January 2002, 11.00

Every citizen dreams of spending less time in traffic jams, away from polluted air, while continuing to enjoy the same level of mobility and quality of life as today. On Thursday, 31 January, Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin will participate in the conference 'Towards Sustainable Urban Mobility' jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Parliament. The objective of this Conference is to present a network of ten projects in the field of land use and transport funded under the EU’s current research Framework programme. Its conclusions will show the possible impact of the new approach adopted by the network and open the road towards sustainable mobility!

At the beginning of the 21st century, people increasingly ask themselves how best to move around in the city where they live. Today, gridlock threatens. Tomorrow, the situation might become even worse, preventing citizens reaching essential services and even their place of work in a reasonable time. In addition to the measures already taken by some cities (e.g. traffic calming, improvement of the quality of public transport), there is a strong requirement for new management and planning instruments enabling local authorities to promote sustainable mobility.

For too long, cities and regions have tended to manage projects from a purely sectoral point of view. This approach is often catastrophic. When large commercial centres were built just outside of cities in the 1980’s, nobody was able to forecast the disastrous long term impacts on the city: increasing use of motorised transport modes, overall increase of energy consumption, deterioration of the quality of social life in city centres, etc.

Although some of these impacts were intuitively predictable, there were no instruments available to assess the possible consequences of the move of commerce from city centres to suburbs. It is very difficult for decision-makers to get solid empirical evidence on the impact policies might have on the future of a city. If cities are to promote sustainable mobility in the long term, the only solution is for them to use sophisticated new planning instruments allowing transport and land-use planning to be integrated. This is the core objective of the EU 'Land Use and Transport Research- LUTR' initiative, launched in 1999, with EU funding of around €13,2 million. It is a network of 10 research projects, with 20 participant countries, 50 partners and associating more than 100 European cities (see more information in the ANNEX).

Journalists are invited to attend a press conference to discuss new initiatives to resolve urban mobility challenges. The event will take place on Thursday 31 January 2002, at 11.00 in the European Parliament, Spinelli Building- Entry D- Room 1G2, Brussels.

Three keynote speakers will participate in the press briefing: Philippe Busquin (EU Research Commissioner), Alexander de Roo (MEP, Greens/EFA, Vice chairman of the Environment Committee), and Tony May (co-ordinator of LUTR, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, UK).

Following the press conference, the journalists will be invited to join Commissioner Busquin during his visit to a nearby exhibition. This exhibition will highlight the results achieved so far by the network, as well as a linked initiative called 'Images of Tomorrow'. This initiative will be illustrated with drawings by children on the theme of the 'ideal city of the future'. Some of the children of the Molenbeek School (Institut Notre-Dame, Brussels), who have created the pictures, will be present. A symbolic prize will be given by the Commissioner Philippe Busquin to the four children with the most imaginative solutions for urban sustainability.

Notes for editors: Journalists wishing to attend should contact Julia Acevedo (see below) or register with Ana Aguilar

Hill and Knowlton International, working under contract of the EC for this event

Tel: +32.2.7379514
Fax: +32.2.7379501
mobile: 00 32 476 219344

For further information concerning the projects presented, please contact:

Eric Ponthieu
Scientific Officer in charge of LUTR
Environment Programme
Research DG
Tel: +32 2 29 69945
Fax: +32 2 29 50656

For further information concerning the press event, please contact:

Julia Acevedo
Press officer,
Research DG
Telephone: +32 2 295 20 43
Fax: +32 2 295 82 20


About LUTR (Land Use and Transport Research)

The indirect benefit of LUTR will be to reduce the need for citizens to use their cars or any personal motorised transport mode on a daily basis, without compromising their ability to access essential services comfortably. One LUTR activity is to assess how the development of more varied functional areas (mixing housing, jobs and commerce) might help to better manage transport demand.

LUTR makes available a new range of planning tools for city managers. The availability of such tools is essential if one wants to mitigate the negative impacts any project has inevitably on the urban development. Concrete evidence of the long term impact of urban projects has been emphasised by the project PROPOLIS, which is part of LUTR. This project, co-ordinated by a small Finnish company, LT Consultants Ltd, has shown that the implementation of suburban public transport services (such as heavy or light rail) does not necessarily lead to only positive benefits. Such a measure, intended to reduce congestion and urban sprawl, might be totally counter-productive. Indeed, by improving the accessibility to areas which are remote from the city centre, new suburban public transport services create an incentive for a new wave of urban sprawl. LUTR tools not only enable city authorities to assess the scope of this phenomenon, but also help them to build up strategies limiting its potential negative impacts.

This and other interesting results will be presented to the broad city stakeholders' community and political decision-makers in a conference co-organised by the European Parliament and European Commission on 31 January 2002. This will be the first stakeholders’ meeting on the link between transport and land use planning. The goal of the meeting will be to realise the potential of linking land use and transport in urban policies. It will be the opportunity to transfer key results to end users in order to speed up their implementation. Policy makers at different institutional levels will benefit from the event in defining their future regulatory context conducive to sustainable development.


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