Shared mobility in every SUMP

Interreg_SHARE-North_Logo (1)Since January 2016 Mpact is involved in the Interreg North Sea project Share-North. This project aims to boost shared mobility to embellish neighborhoods in our cities and regions. Share-North has different strategies to reach this: living labs, innovative approaches, campaigns, but also enhancing in-depth political knowledge and expertise.

A very clear message we want to promote is to integrate shared mobility in every Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP). A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is a strategic plan designed to satisfy the mobility needs of people and businesses in cities and their surroundings for a better quality of life. It builds on existing planning practices and takes due consideration of integration, participation, and evaluation principles. [1] A SUMP is a very efficient tool to realize a serious impact on travel behaviour.

Even the European Commission is working closely with the member states to ensure the SUMP concept is adapted to the specific requirements and existing planning practices in each member state and actively promoted at national level in order to reach hundreds of cities in Europe.

A SUMP typically addresses the following topics[2]:

  1. Public transport
  2. Walking and cycling
  3. Intermodality
  4. Urban road safety
  5. Road transport (flowing and stationary)
  6. Urban logistics
  7. Mobility management
  8. Intelligent Transport Systems

It’s hard to find ambitions and strategies on shared mobility

Even though shared mobility (ride-sharing, bike-sharing, car-sharing) is often mentioned in guidelines and concrete SUMPs, it often lacks a real ambition and a clear strategic plan with responsibilities, investments, etc.

Shared mobility could have a serious impact on travel behaviour, consumption of street space, accessibility and energy consumption. Shared Mobility simply enhances the quality of life. Therefore it is very surprising that only a few cities like Bremen and Ghent have action plans on shared mobility. If you recognize the benefits, it is really clear that shared mobility needs a real ambition and strategy in every SUMP.

We detected 3 obstacles for the absence of shared mobility action plans in most SUMPS:

  1. The transportation pyramid

According to the transportation pyramid, we should prioritize cycling and walking first. As next priority comes public transport. Between public transport and individual car use, we find collective car use like taxi, car-sharing and ride-sharing.

We are also convinced about this prioritizing, but according to us it is very often misapplied. In terms of promoting sustainable mobility you often have to scroll down a whole menu to find something about shared mobility.

Why don’t we  use the transportation pyramid the other way around: If people are addicted to their car, we might convince them to share their car once in a while. Shared mobility could work as methadone to climb up onto the pyramid. It’s a matter of smart communication: Not a one-fits-all story, but tailor-made communication for each target group. We could learn a lot from Google and Facebook on that.

  1. Intermodal journeys vs. Multimodal travel behaviour

By many travel planners, shared mobility is still perceived as a first or last-mile solution. There’s a strong political awareness about intermodality, but even though car-sharing or ride-sharing could work as part of an intermodal journey, it’s mostly used as unique mode for one trip.

The strength of shared modes is mainly on multimodal travel behaviour: different modes per user for different journeys. Members of car-sharing schemes for instance, are using very often public transport or cycling for commuting, but sometimes a shared car to visit their family in the weekend. Their access to shared cars makes it possible to get rid of car-ownership.

The common misunderstanding that car-sharing is mainly a first or last-mile solution contributes on the other hand to an image of a complex mobility solution, because intermodality is not always possible or not that easy.

  1. It’s up to the market!

Shared mobility suppliers are very often independent companies. It is difficult to interact in this market, especially when competition is going on. Therefore it is necessary to have a good understanding of this market.

Shared mobility is a very broad spectrum of solutions for collective car-use. Even if solutions look really similar, business models and impact could vary a lot. For instance corporate carpooling (focus on commuters) is much different than long distance carpooling schemes. Also station-based and one-way car-sharing look similar but answer different travel needs.

It’s up to the city to define its main objectives (for instance modal shift, space consumption, accessibility) and to see if the market supports to this. If not – or not enough – the city should interact. To learn more about the broad spectrum and impacts of shared mobility, read the Care-North+ factsheet or contact Mpact or other Share-North partners.

During the Share-North project we will create a toolbox for cities to maximize the benefits of shared mobility. Meanwhile we create awareness by telling this story during conferences, seminars and political contacts. Last week you could hear the sound of Share-North during the SUMP conference in Bremen. Later this year you can meet us at the WOCOMOCO-conference in Warsaw, the CIVITAS gathering in Gdynia, and other local and international events.

[1] Guidelines – European Platform on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans