Mobility Car-Free The Top 5 EU Projects on Reducing Car Use - and What...

The Top 5 EU Projects on Reducing Car Use – and What You Can Learn From Them

Lauren McAskie
I love talking to passionate CityChangers from around the world, hearing their stories and what drives their activism, then writing up guides for others to get inspired by. There's only one thing that could top a car-free city for me, and that's one made out of chocolate... but a girl can only dream. In the meantime, I'll work on making the first come true.

Over the last 20 years or so the European Union has funded hundreds of projects aiming to reduce private vehicle usage and emissions. We took a look to see what some of the biggest initiatives have been to summarise what they achieved, how they achieved it and what the key takeaways are from each one all in this bite-sized guide for Citychangers.

Why Are EU Projects Important?

You might be asking “why do I need to know about EU projects?” or “how do EU projects actually help me if I want to change my city?”. 

Projects funded by the EU often involve investments of millions of euros, but it can help you to understand exactly what’s already been tried and tested, what works and what doesn’t and may provide some useful inspiration for any kind of similar project or trial you might want to carry out yourself to reduce cars in your city.

EU projects can be hard to find, might involve a lot of reading of long and complex documents and research to find out exactly what was achieved. That’s why we’ve gathered the most important projects and put all this need-to-know information in one easily digestible article.

1. MOMO: More Options for Energy Efficient Mobility through Car-sharing

Aims of the Project

MOMO sought to establish car-sharing as a part of new mobility culture. The project aimed to combine car-sharing with other modes of transport to offer people a more intelligent and resource-efficient alternative to car ownership.

Its goal was to establish car-sharing in cities where it did not yet exist – to raise awareness about car-sharing and to make recommendations about how to involve stakeholders.

What They Achieved

  • MOMO informed 135,000 people across Europe about car-sharing. 
  • As a direct result of the project around 4000 people and 600 companies joined car-sharing services. During the project, membership figures of participating car-sharing providers increased by 95,000.
  • Established car-sharing pilots with 13 real estate projects and 33 short-term rental points with hotels.
  • It also helped to reduce the energy consumption of car-sharing vehicles by between 7gCO2/km and 25gCO2/km per vehicle and achieved a 10% reduction in fuel consumption as a result of driver training.

Where They Did It

Partners included companies from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain.

When They Did It

October 2008 – September 2011

Budget

€1,701,706

Key Takeaways / Lessons Learnt

  • Awareness raising is essential to support car-sharing as the project concluded that knowledge about car-sharing systems among decisionmakers, political stakeholders and potential partners is still quite low.
  • To set up a successful car-sharing scheme, you must build solid partnerships with local public transport actors. These partnerships could include integrated spatial planning of the networks, joint promotional and marketing activities, or combined ticketing and information sharing.
  • Setting up new car-sharing services in housing developments is the biggest challenge. To increase the chances of success you should try to work with highly motivated project partners. Car-sharing operators should get involved at the design stage of the housing development.

2. MOBI: Promoting Smart Mobility to Employees

Aims of the Project

The key issue with mobility projects trying to change mobility behaviour is that they are hard to monitor, and therefore it is also hard to evaluate their progress and results.

MOBI built on the From5to4 project that took place in the Netherlands where they tried to get employers and employees to use energy efficient and sustainable transport modes for their commutes instead of private cars.

MOBI aimed to inform employees about the benefits of sustainable transport, encourage active mobility through online ‘competitions’ between employees based on point systems according to how much individuals travelled in an energy efficient way and make recommendations to policymakers about further actions to increase energy efficiency in commuter travel.

The goal was to see what every week each employee would undertake 1 day of smarter commuting to see a 20% overall decrease of car use.

What They Achieved

  • Gave employees information about energy saved, calories burned and the opportunity to win prizes and compete with their friends when travelling actively rather than by car.
  • There were 24 ‘games’ that registered more than 500 trips each.  91% of people who participated recommended the game to their peers.
  • The use of sustainable modes went from 57-80% in participating companies – exceeding the 20% goal of the project.
  • Energy consumption and CO2 emissions were reduced by 27% during the game allowing savings of 14.7 tons of CO2.

Where They Did It

First pilots took place in Germany and Hungary, and later the US, Columbia and New Zealand.

When They Did It

March 2013 – March 2016

Budget

€728,328,00

Key Takeaways / Lessons Learnt

  • The biggest challenge was getting organisations to commit to playing the game. 70% of companies expressed an interest when contacted but only 5% followed through. So, it is crucial to understand the needs and concerns of organisations before approaching them.
  • The sales pitch for employers has to clearly express what they have to gain from the game. Recruitment should focus mostly on companies with high social responsibility. 
  • Identifying the right contact person for companies is challenging as it is often unclear who is responsible for mobility management. Finding an enthusiastic ‘door-opener’ makes the process much faster and easier.

3. PUSH & PULL: Parking Management and Incentives as Successful and Proven Strategies for Energy Efficient Urban Transport

Aims of the Project

The aim of the project was to combine rewards and disincentives to induce a change in mobility behaviour – specifically through parking space management and mobility management measures.

A crucial aspect of the project was the link between revenues from parking and sustainable consistent and reliable financing for mobility management measures.

The goals were to identify and spread knowledge of ways to make the implementation of parking management more politically acceptable, to build the capacity and skills to implement parking management measures to help cities be accessible in an era of steeply rising fuel prices and to inform stakeholders and foster their commitment by spreading knowledge about such measures.

What They Achieved

  • They introduced paid parking, increased existing parking fees, reduced and restrained parking supply and implemented comparable measures to push car drivers towards more sustainable transport.
  • Created an average of 3 new green jobs per city in parking management, increased spending in partner cities on parking management by 20% or 20,000 euros per year and ensured that by the end of the project 7 partners have committed to long-term funding of mobility management from management revenues.

Where They Did It

Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Germany.

When They Did It

March 2014 – February 2017

Budget

€1,379,880

Key Takeaways / Lessons Learnt

  • The implementation of a funding mechanism that reserves a share of parking revenues to finance sustainable mobility measures is complex due to different legal planning conditions in different EU countries – so a one-fits-all procedure is non-existent.
  • Parking management is a very current topic in EU cities – but there are differences in its awareness / knowledge. In some cities parking management is accepted, whereas in others paying for parking is an unknown concept. There is therefore a need to view enforcement as an integrated part of parking management, a high demand for information and know-how transfer.

4. SWITCH: Encouraging a SWITCH from Car-based to Active Mobility Using Personalised Information and Communication Technology Approaches

Aims of the Project

The main objective of this project was to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by switching car trips to more active modes for short urban journeys.

To encourage this active travel the project aimed to (i) use a combination of tried and tested personalised travel planning approaches, (ii) apply them to target groups of people in life-changing moments on a large scale (iii) make use of ICT solutions like smartphone applications and (iv) use public health arguments to motivate behavioural change.

To do this they aimed to have 5 local campaigns each using a 3-step approach: 1. Raise Awareness, 2. Impart knowledge and 3. Motivate behavioural change. 

What They Achieved

  • 11,000 persons were directly contacted in implementation cities with a participation rate of at least 60%.
  • Serious changes in mobility behaviour were reported such as 50% of participants changing their mobility behaviour for a 10% decrease in car use and related GHG emissions.
  • Created a campaign guide and toolbox including an e-learning tool, explanation of a SWITCH campaign and provided easy to understand step-by-step guidance on how to develop, prepare and implement a locally tailored SWITCH campaign for follower cities.

Where They Did It

5 campaigns implemented in Antwerp, Donostia San Sebastian, London, Hounslow, Gdansk and Vienna.

When They Did It

June 2014 – May 2016

Budget

€1,227,365

Key Takeaways / Lessons Learnt

  • Exchange between implementation cities is very helpful in campaign preparation. Extra workshops on top of regular project meetings are also useful. Even if comprehensive guidance on SWITCH campaigns is available, having regular conference calls and face-to-face visits are crucial to address the main problems.
  • Gamification in campaigns to ensure fun and engagement is key. Distribution of incentives such as lotteries and raffles also have positive effects on the campaigns.
  • Crucial to the implementation of the campaigns was the combination of tailored contact and communication channels. It’s important to link the campaign with local situations and actions to create local partnerships for support.

5. STARS: Sustainable Travel Recognition and Accreditation for Schools

Aims of the Project

STARS aimed to deliver a modal shift in the number of school pupils cycling and walking to school. 

The goal was to foster a life-long positive attitude towards active travel for children – while also encouraging parents and families to think about using their cars for school journeys less.

What They Achieved

  • The project used a two-tier system to achieve their aims: an accreditation system to empower the whole school to cycle and a peer-to-peer engagement programme targeting children and young adults to devise their own campaigns to discourage car use (the idea being that their ideas would be more likely to be adopted by their peers).
  • the accreditation programme was delivered in all partner cities across 188 primary schools – 126 of which have been accredited in the last 2 years. 20 gold level, 39 silver and 67 bronze. 114 have continued to implement STARS for a third year.
  • Peer-to-peer programmes were delivered by all partner cities with a total of 89 Youth Ambassador Schemes set up. Over 51,000 students were involved carrying out 974 activities.
  • Over the course of the project there was a 6% shift in modal share from motorised modes to active modes of transport in STARS secondary schools.

Where They Did It

Bielefeld, Brussels, Budapest, Edinburgh, London, Krakow, Madrid, Milan, and Noord Brabant.

When They Did It

March 2013 – March 2016

Budget

€1,629,607

Key Takeaways / Lessons Learnt

  • School recruitment and engagement is much more effective if done at the end of the previous school year.
  • A lot of time and effort is required at the beginning of the programme from the city staff and STARS advisors. Once the programme is up and running it gained momentum quickly – this is the point when it is easier to attract new schools and secure their commitment for participation.
  • Workshops with teachers/school staff altogether on a continuous basis allowed for constant revision of the approach, continued enthusiasm, a real buy-in to the programme and enrichment and strengthening of the strategies developed.

All in all, the key takeaways from these EU project are very different, but depending on what it is you’re trying to achieve, there is a lot to learn from each one.

Whether you’re trying to replicate something that has already been done, recreate it on a smaller scale, or just looking for some inspiration — there’s never a bad time to learn about what’s already out there and how it can help you change your city for the better.

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