Environment, health and… fantasy ” “

Initiatives in 38 Countries to rediscover the quality of life in the city. Leaving cars in the garage for a few days at least

To reclaim urban spaces to create an “ideal city” in which citizens want to live is the aim of the 13th European Mobility Week (September 16-22 2014) a European campaign on sustainable urban mobility. This year’s theme is “Our streets, our choice”. Sustainable commuting challenges, teleworking campaigns, flash mobs, “car free day” events, creative competitions, festivals and many more activities are being planned in 1.789 cities in 38 Countries, that include Japan, Ecuador and Brazil. Encouraging sustainable transport. The origin of the Week dates back to 1988 when the French initiative “In Town without my car!” was first launched to encourage towns and cities to close streets to motorised vehicles for a day. This allows people to see a different side to their towns and cities, encouraging the use of sustainable modes of transport and raising awareness of the environmental impacts of the choice of transport mode. The success of this French initiative led to the launch of European Mobility Week in 2002. Since then, the initiative was the object increasing interest across the years in Europe and in the rest of the world. In 2013, 1.931 cities representing 176 million citizens registered for the campaign. A total of 8.623 permanent measures have been implemented, mainly focusing on infrastructure for cycling and walking, traffic calming, improving transport accessibility and raising awareness about sustainable travel behaviour. Improving urban space. “For too long, private cars have determined how cities are planned. But nowadays, €100 billion are lost to our economies every year due to congestion, not to speak of the effects on people’s time and health”, said Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, in charge of transport. Of course, “there are plenty of good ideas around on how we can better shape where we live”. “Mobility Week – said Environment Commissioner Janez Potoènik – “reminds us that when it comes to personal mobility, we really do have a choice, and good choice makes a tangible difference to our health and our quality of life. So let’s make a stand for cleaner air and for urban spaces that are built for people”. The European Commission supports European Mobility Week with around €300, 000 a year, in particular for Europe-wide coordination and a recognition of “outstanding work being carried out by cities and local authorities across Europe to meet the transport needs of their communities in an effective and sustainable way”. The winning region or local authority will receive a prize of € 10, 000 and international recognition for its initiatives. Some examples at local level. The initiatives planned this year envisage the ‘Blooming streets’ painting competition competition in Austria. During the Week, municipalities across Austria will give children the opportunity to reclaim the streets by allowing them to paint them the way they would like to shape them. This initiative is organised through schools and with the best effort given a prize at the end. In Valencia (Spain) the purpose is to revert the urban centre to a car-free public space for sustainable mobility, first for a single day, and eventually permanently, while the highlight of the Week in Aarhus (Denmark) is a small caravan called the “Rolling Mobility Lab” as part of the smart mobility project. Where the caravan appears, citizens will have the chance to co-create new measures such as making cycle lanes safer, so that they benefit them directly, making them attractive enough for them to change their travel behaviour. European local authorities are invited to sign up to the European Mobility Week Charter and publish their programmes on www.mobilityweek.eu.

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