Aarhus is going through a period of economic growth. The city is attracting new jobs and businesses, and new neighbourhoods have been built to accommodate its new residents. Despite these positive developments for Aarhus, this growth has a downside. Increased traffic volumes and higher numbers of commuters cause congestion and a high demand for the limited number of parking spaces. City life and the environment suffer from increased traffic.

The Aarhus municipality is trying to address these challenges in several ways, including:

  • investing in some large infrastructure projects, such as cycling infrastructure and the Letbanen light rail;
  • encouraging residents to change their travel behaviour through ‘mobility management’.

Mobility management uses ‘soft measures’ such as information and communication. The core of mobility management is knowledge of different target groups – their everyday lives, habits, needs and preferences, as well as their eventual behaviour changes. Unlike new infrastructure, mobility management measures do not require large, long-term investments (e.g. instead of expanding traffic capacity, these measures use methods that aim to optimise the use of existing infrastructure).

Aarhus’s mobility management projects have the primary aim of changing commuting habits. At the same time, the city’s promotion of active modes – walking and cycling – reflects the city’s health agenda with its focus on improving social and mental wellbeing. Feedback from participants, who increased their activity levels by cycling, confirmed that such measures can have positive results for physical and mental health.

In action

Between 2014 and 2017, the City of Aarhus ran the Smart Mobility project, which consisted of 22 pilot projects aimed at different target groups. The pilots tested small-scale solutions in ‘a laboratory setting’. Their development, testing and evaluation provided knowledge and expertise on how and why different mobility management measures can be successful.

In spring 2014, the Aarhus municipality set up an organisational structure. Because mobility management affects many aspects of society, Aarhus municipality chose to involve different disciplines and departments. A core team of three was formed, consisting of an anthropologist, a landscape architect and a civil engineer. A project group that met on a monthly basis brought together staff from municipal departments working on climate, health, environment, communities and co-creation, youth and innovation. The project was partly financed by the Danish Transport, Construction and Housing Authority.

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Source:  Eltis – The urban mobility observatory