1. Sustainable mobility versus noise pollution

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    Although we might not realise, noise pollution is Europe’s second largest environmental health threat. A staggering one in every five Europeans is exposed to noise levels that are damaging their health.

    Perhaps expected, the majority of noise comes from transport pollution, namely roads, rail and air traffic. City dwellers suffer the most, with Paris cited by the European Environment Agency as one of Europe’s noisiest. Data reveals that 5.5 million people are exposed to noise levels exceeding 55 decibels, with 432,000 residents taking tranquillisers to combat their discomfort. London and Rome are also identified as problematic cities, with 2.6 million and 1.7 million people exposed respectively.

    Sustainable mobility and its minimal noise output offers a solution for the estimated 30 – 46 billion euros that society spends every year in overcoming the problem. The findings from CE Delf approximate this as 0.4% of total GDP, understandable when considering the long and short-term health risks that amalgamate, including cardiovascular, blood pressure and insomnia concerns.

    Other solutions to noise pollution are being explored. The European Environmental Noise Directive offers guidance, while appropriate authorities are encouraged to join the Green City Accord and address pollution-prevention laws. In addition, local and national governments are developing Noise Plans that include sustainable mobility solutions such as low-noise asphalt and the installation of sound barriers. Paris’ Plan Brut is one such example, that also recognises the need to reduce car traffic in city centres, expand cycling networks and ban polluting vehicles.

    Reducing car speeds is an effective way of reducing traffic noise. Thousands of towns and cities across Europe have implemented measures as part of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, a campaign that has also implemented the construction of 3,600 green areas that aid in air pollution.

    Although largely invisible, noise pollution does have an impact on people’s everyday lives and welfare. Sustainable mobility options and swapping traditional transport norms for walking and cycling will create more comfortable environments for all of us to live, work and play in.

    More details on the impact of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK and those towns and cities involved can be found here.

  2. Brussels’ ‘Car-Free Sunday’ leads to 90% drop in automobile-related pollution

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    Source: Mayor.eu, D. Balgaranov

    On 18th September 2022, Brussels instituted a no-cars Sunday as part of European Mobility Week. From 09:30 am to 19:00 pm, cars were prohibited from much of the city to prioritize walking, cycling, and public transport.

    Outside of cultural and holistic benefits, Bruxelles Environment, the city’s environment agency, measured a 90% reduction in nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, both of which are toxic substances emitted by combustion engines. Additionally, the city saw significant drops in noise levels, again seeing an approximate 90% decrease in typically congested areas; this further demonstrates what modern urban planners have been suggesting in recent years, “cities are not noisy, cars are noisy

    Authorities point out that yearly emissions have been going down since 2019, by about 10% per year. However, there is still a long way to go, since according to the European Environment Agency, in 2018, Belgium registered around 8,900 deaths caused by air pollution.”

  3. Interview – Tampere, Finland. Winner of the 10th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning

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    Source: European Mobility Week

    EuropeanMobilityWeek catches up with Deputy Mayor Aleksi Jäntti of Tampere, Finland, to discuss the award’s meaning for the city and its future sustainable endeavors.

    “As a rapidly growing urban area, Tampere is working to create a liveable, inclusive city for all. Its multidisciplinary approach to sustainable urban mobility planning empowers its residents to make healthier mobility choices that are active, safe, and environmentally friendly. The City’s winning sustainable urban mobility plan includes an impact assessment of the effect that mobility campaigns have on the local population. The plan also spotlights low-carbon mobility, road safety, vulnerable groups, smart mobility solutions, physical and mental well-being, accessibility, and low pollution levels to ensure a holistic approach to mobility.”

    What does winning the Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) Award mean for Tampere?

    Winning the SUMP Award is a great pride and joy! Our City’s development and work to promote sustainable mobility has really been recognized. The Tampere City Strategy introduces Tampere as ‘the city of action.’ Last year, 2021, is more than excellent proof of this: Our SUMP was accepted, and both new and improved possibilities for sustainable mobility were introduced.

    The award, for its part, shows that we are on the right track and encourages us to go on with the implementation of measures and sustainability.”

    “How does sustainable mobility fit into Tampere’s vision for a sustainable, resilient city?

    “It fits very well! The goal of carbon neutrality sets the target for the future modal split in Tampere. But sustainability goes far beyond only reducing emissions. The shift from individual motorized transport towards public and active mobility modes takes Tampere’s goals forward from the perspective of climate and environment, as well as safety, well-being, equality, and economy. Sustainable transport, both for people and freight, is also space-efficient, which is an import aspect for a growing city like Tampere.”

    “EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK recently launched a new slogan: #MixandMove. How does Tampere encourage multimodal approaches to transport? Why is this important?

    Integrating different forms of mobility is crucial when we want to decrease emissions, shorter individual motorized trips, and offer people more flexible access to mobility. Additionally, multimodality can also improve the cost-effectiveness of public transport, especially in sparsely populated areas.

    In Tampere, multimodality can take the form of city bikes, robos or e-scooters used to reach tram stops easily; a demand-based taxi brings someone to take a local train or a network of Park&Rides by truck line routes.

    In addition to infrastructure and new services, mobility management is needed to change the mindset for new possibilities. Also, digital technologies and smart traffic management can play a significant role. Therefore, improving multimodality needs cooperation between the public sector and private providers.”

  4. EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2022 – registration and theme

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    Towns and cities are warmly invited to participate in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, which takes place from 16-22 September each year. The theme for 2022 is ‘Better Connections’

    Registration is now open to the official local authority of towns or cities that may wish to participate.

    The registration portal can be found via the Mobility Week Website.

    Participating areas are encouraged to organize activities focusing on sustainable mobility, implement progressive transport measures, and host a ‘car-free day’.

    “The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2022 annual theme, ‘Better connections’, seeks to highlight and foster synergies between people and places that are offering their expertise, creativity, and dedication to raising awareness about sustainable mobility and promoting behavioral change in favor of active mobility, in addition to reaching out and making connections between existing groups and new audiences.”

    The five pillars of ‘Better connections’ are:

    • People
    • Places
    • Packages
    • Planning & Policy

    Download the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK thematic guidelines document here.

  5. The 2021 European Mobility Week Awards winners are announced

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    Kassel, Rethymno, Tampere, and Valongo were revealed as European sustainable urban mobility awards winners

    This March, the winners of three award brackets were announced; the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK awards 2021; the 10th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP Award); and the EU Urban Road Safety Award.

    The announcement was shared during a hybrid event based in Brussels, hosted by Matthew Baldwin, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Transport and Mobility.

    Kassel (Germany) walked away with the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award 2021 for larger municipalities. Meanwhile, Valongo (Portugal) was awarded the title for smaller municipalities. The 10th SUMP Award was given to Tampere (Finland) and Rethymno (Greece) was revealed as the winner of the EU Urban Road Safety Award.

    For full details on the awardees’ achievements, visit the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK website.

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