Three tips for an efficient mobility plan

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Three tips for an efficient mobility plan

Awareness is growing among local decision-makers that if you want to go forward and grow your city quickly and efficiently, you need a plan, and a smart one… Which is probably why the first mobility plans were strategically branded as “Masterplans” or “Sustainable Plans”.

But elaborating a smart plan is not as easy as it seems. Before reaching a version of the plan which will suit their needs and priorities, cities and other institutional bodies will most probably have to go through a number of time-consuming steps and require the contribution of multidisciplinary expertise.

In this context, and from our collaborations with decision-makers and our experiences in mobility plans, we propose to share here three tips which are crucial to the plan elaboration, and may help to take your plan to the next level.

Tip 1: Foster participatory approach.

No, involving citizens in the creation of a plan is not optional or just a way of organising fun workshops. On the contrary, it is the perfect occasion to mix bottom-up and top-down methods, and listen to what daily users (or non-users) have to say about the plan and mobility in general. You may be surprised by their viewpoints.

In fact, numerous cities have already decided to include a participatory dimension in their plan, and have noticed that citizens’ feedback was very concrete and practical. Also, since they were included in the decision-making from the start, citizens got a better glimpse of the overall picture, and started to understand better the constraints of their decision-makers.

While this process allows population groups to spread support of the city’s policies, another non-negligible advantage is also that it helps (re-)build a trust base between decision-makers and their citizens (who experience the challenges of governing).

In some areas, municipalities have pushed the experience as far as putting in the hands of citizens part of their budget in order for them to choose the projects to start or to support. Beyond the fact of being genuinely integrated citizens participation measures, it also demonstrates of a smart use of internet and social media, which will undoubtedly increase in the future.

Tip 2: Integration is KEY.

It will never be repeated enough, but if you want your mobility plan to be sustainable, it will have to be integrated.

After studying the entire mobility ecosystem of your area – don’t leave anything out! – aim at offering your citizens the best combinations of modes, which will allow them to travel seamlessly and serenely.

Seamlessly means that barriers between modes should be removed as much as possible. Concretely, this can be done for example by implementing a holistic review of the whole transport network and mobility supply chain, or by a better ticketing system integration between different operators.

Serenely refers to the fact that users should not have to choose between too many complex travel options. This could be achieved thanks to the creation of a journey planner including all transport and mobility modes (rail, road, shared mobility modes, and even walking), or a simplification of the fare grids.

Tip 3: Open up to new technologies and innovation.

Even though new technologies are not a solution to all urban problems, they are definitely enablers, and will provide a solid base for data collection and quick wins in terms – notably – of quality or frequency: This is what Smart Cities and the Internet of Things are about, providing the necessary data sets, sensors, or devices for cities to sustain urban decisions based on concrete evidence.

A mobility plan should indeed foster technological developments and innovations, as they represent effective facilitators for both transport operations and users’ journeys: mobile phone apps, contactless payments, big data use, open data sharing, etc. On a different note, new technologies can also be seen as a tool to help bring together the traditional “sectoral silos” existing within the industry, or between sectors which work on similar patterns as transport and mobility, such as energy, freight or  logistics.