Across Europe, the migration of people out of the city centre to the suburbs is leading to increasingly dispersed settlement structures with low population densities and long travel distances. This phenomenon of urban sprawl comes hand in hand with an increase in car ownership and commuter traffic. Today, most European local authorities are confronted with significant and increasing problems of traffic congestion and pollution. Transport is also a major challenge for climate protection. It is currently responsible for around 24% of the world?s climate change, and by 2010, transport will be the largest single contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The 1999 LIFE project ?In Town Without My Car!? day, was a response to this critical situation. The project got over 400 cities in all the 15 Member States plus candidate countries to support the first car-free day in Europe (22 September). Initiated in France in 1998, and now spreading across Europe, this approach consists of activities to raise public awareness, with a view to influencing behavioural patterns towards improved urban mobility and greater environmental protection. The success of this project led to the launch of a second LIFE project, the ?European Mobility Week?. From 16 ? 22 April 2002, a wide range of initiatives tackling different aspects of urban mobility were carried out in 320 cities from 21 countries, in partnership with local associations, NGOs and businesses. The French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME), the beneficiary of the two former LIFE projects, decided that the next step to maximise the campaign?s success would be to evaluate the initiatives implemented in the different participating cities, and to develop a compendium of best practices, recommendations and model cities.
The Sustainable Mobility Initiatives for Local Environment (SMILE) project?s objective was to gather, systemise and evaluate the methods implemented and results achieved by the 400 initiatives, so as to determine not only which had achieved their goals, but also why they had been successful, which initiatives were still active, and which could be transferred to other cities in Europe. The project?s specific objectives were: - To raise awareness of the growing negative impacts of private car use on the health and well-being of cities? inhabitants, thereby influencing public behaviour; - To improve urban mobility by promoting the implementation of good practices on a permanent basis in municipalities; - To provide answers to the concerns of citizens regarding noise pollution; and - To provide technical assistance to 10 demonstration projects on urban mobility, as well as to support them in encouraging the spread of good practices across Europe.
The SMILE team sent a questionnaire to the over 700 cities that participated in the ?In Town Without My Car!? day and Mobility Week. Each local authority was asked to provide comprehensive information about its overall transport policy and the measures implemented to promote sustainable mobility. The questionnaire is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Austrian, Dutch, Portuguese and Greek on the project website (www.smile-europe.org). A survey return rate of 21% was achieved, and the 170 responses were used to define 175 successful and replicable practices for sustainable urban mobility. These have been compiled in an online ?local experiences database? that is accessible via the project website. The systemisation and analysis of the cities? responses, undertaken jointly with the cities and experts in the field, also led to a series of documents, all of which are available on the project website in English and Spanish. Recommendations were formulated for local authorities focusing on several fields of local mobility policy: sectorial integration, mobility management, urban planning, parking management and urban freight coordination, as well as on responsible car use, public transport, walking and cycling and intermodality. The resulting guidelines were published in the brochure ?Towards Sustainable Urban Transport Policies: Recommendations for Local Authorities?. The project compiled the experiences of European cities and towns in designing specific measures to meet the needs of special target groups, such as children, young people, women, low-income groups, elderly people, and handicapped people. The resulting recommendations were presented in the publication ?Sustainable mobility for all?, which is also available on CD-ROM. A further product is the publication ?Public Transport: A Pillar for Sustainable Mobility?, which contains the collective experience on how to best integrate public transport into sustainable mobility initiatives. The guidelines, containing recommendations for both local authorities and public transport operators, are also available both on CD-ROM. An additional survey focusing specifically on noise abatement was conducted among 86 of the cities, enabling the project to identify innovative activities to reduce traffic noise. The survey reveals the existing potential for noise-abatement measures in fields that are under the remit of local authorities, and which these can therefore influence directly. The resulting publication ?Guidelines on Noise Abatement Planning Principles for Road Traffic at the Local Authority Level? is available also on CD-ROM and online. Finally, 14 European cities were identified that had outstanding sustainable mobility policies and that wished to share their experience and knowledge. The ?SMILE Study Tour Catalogue and Site Visits? brochure enables local authorities to benefit from the experiences of these advanced ?host? cities, presenting some of today's most innovative sustainable transport measures, including mobility master-plans, car sharing, eco-driving, restricted access systems, intermodal approaches, information systems, and mobility management in companies. This project has been awarded the title of "Best of the Best" from a shortlist of 24 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2004-2005