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Introduction to city planning

What is a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, or SUMP? Read this article to find out.

City planning for transport is key to creating a network that is fit for purpose and serves its citizens. This includes how the roads are utilised for transport as well as the wider landscaping for pedestrians and how they interact with transport.

Further to this, city planning should incorporate environmental policies and targets that will have an influence on decisions made regarding transport. Increasingly, cities are being encouraged to create master plans and sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs) with the environment and carbon reduction at its heart. As more countries and cities target net-zero emissions in the future, these plans are key to making sustainable choices now in order to realise their future targets.

Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP)

A SUMP is a planning concept created and applied by cities and local authorities for strategic mobility planning. Its principal aim is to improve accessibility and provide high-quality, sustainable mobility for the entire urban area. This includes supporting the integration and balanced development of all modes considered sustainable. A SUMP is key to solving urban transport problems, helping to steer the direction of city planners when making choices about new forms of mobility.

SUMPs consider the whole urban area with cooperation across different policy areas, transport modes and local residents. It ensures a variety of sustainable transport options are available for residents. The aim is to create the safe and healthy passage of people and goods across the city, with consideration for fellow residents and the urban environment.

A summary of the key principles behind SUMPs is stated below:

  • Plan for sustainable mobility: Sustainable mobility should reduce air and noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. It should also enhance the attractiveness of the urban environment, quality of life and public health whilst improving road safety and security. The sustainable mobility network should be accessible and meet the basic mobility needs of all users regardless of socio-economic status. While meeting the sustainability needs of the city the plan should also balance this with economic viability, optimising efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Cooperate across institutional boundaries: A high level of cooperation, coordination and consultation is required across different levels of government and between institutions (and their departments) in the planning area. Additionally, coordination with public and private sector providers of transport services is required to ensure a joined up approach.
  • Involve citizens and stakeholders: The plan should focus on meeting the mobility needs of people in the area, both residents and visitors, as well as institutions and companies based there.
  • Assess current and future performance: It should provide a comprehensive review of the existing situation and establishes a baseline against which progress can be measured.
  • Define a long-term vision and a clear implementation plan: The plan should be based on a long-term vision for transport and mobility development for the entire area and cover all modes of transport: public and private; passenger and freight; motorised and non-motorised. It should also include infrastructure and services with an implementation plan that has a timescale, budget and clear allocation of responsibility.
  • Develop all transport modes in an integrated manner: Though each part of a SUMP will be looked at individually, a wider vision is required for how all the services will work together. The plan should put forward an integrated set of measures to improve quality, security, safety, accessibility, and cost effectiveness of the overall mobility system.
  • Arrange for monitoring and evaluation: The implementation of a SUMP must be monitored closely. Progress towards the objectives of the plan and meeting the targets should be assessed regularly based on the chosen performance indicators.
  • Assure quality of service: A SUMP is a key document for the development of an urban area. Having mechanisms in place to ensure a SUMP’s general professional quality and to validate its compliance is key to ensuring the best possible vision of the region is taken forwards and implemented.

There are many aspects to city planning and the creation of SUMPs has been a real turning point for cities allowing sustainability to be at the heart of their future vision. If you would like to explore this topic further you can find a detailed guideline for sustainable urban mobility planning in the related links section produced for the European Commission.

Using the comments below, ask yourself what you think the key benefits of a SUMP are and why it would be useful for your own city to develop one.

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Sustainable Transport and Shared Mobility

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