The Commission’s Thematic Strategy on the urban environment1 was adopted in 2006 and described a number of common environmental challenges and problems faced by most European conurbations although the scale and intensity of these problems vary.
These issues comprise: poor air quality, traffic volumes and congestion, high levels of ambient noise, neglect of the built environment, high level of greenhouse gas emissions, social exclusion and urban sprawl. These are serious pressures since they have significant effects on the environment, health and economic performance of European conurbations.
The Thematic Strategy stressed that urban mobility contributes significantly to these pressures. That is why it strongly recommended the development and implementation of Sustainable Urban Transport Plans (SUTP) and proposed that guidance be prepared to help local authorities in this respect. This was fully supported in 2006 by the European Parliament’s resolution on the Commission’s Thematic Strategy and by the renewed EU Strategy on Sustainable Development2 adopted by the European Council.
Since the adoption of the Strategy, the Commission decided to launch a wider debate on urban mobility and this preparatory document aims to assist this Green Paper consultation exercise by providing a synthesis of available information on sustainable urban transport plans. It is supplemented with an annex on best practice examples and useful references which are made available on DG Environment’s EUROPA website3. The current document is not prescriptive. It is based upon the input and feedback from extensive stakeholders’ consultations, the results of Community research in the field of land use and urban transport4 and the report of the Commission’s working group on sustainable urban transport plans.
Any further development or refinement of this preparatory document will be considered as part of the follow-up of the Green Paper consultation on urban mobility.