Cities are in the vanguard of smart and sustainable mobility, embracing diverse technologies and approaches to de-carbonise transport, combat congestion and improve air quality. This includes intelligent traffic and mobility management, new distribution hubs, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), multi-modality, using data in new ways, and eco-mobility for last-mile deliveries. These topics and others were discussed during the fourth webinar ahead of the 14th ITS European Congress in Toulouse, taking place from 30 May to 1 June at the MEETT Exhibition and Conference Centre.

‘Properly understanding city and citizen perspectives is critical to delivering the most effective solutions,’ says Joost Vantomme, CEO, ERTICO-ITS Europe. ‘ITS today is not only about moving people and goods in smarter and greener ways, it is increasingly about moving data as well. The upcoming congress will reflect all these different angles and solutions, making them tangible.’

Two years ago, ERTICO launched its large-scale City Moonshot initiative to engage with cities to better understand their needs and what they are doing in mobility and transport. Phase one results are now available on the ERTICO website. ‘This global initiative reaches out to cities in Europe and beyond across key themes including sustainability, air quality, data sharing, engaging citizens, electromobility and urban air mobility,’ says Vladimir Vorotovic, Director of Innovation and Deployment, ERTICO-ITS Europe. Importantly, these themes align with European Commission policy and plans.

The new EU Urban Mobility Framework

Zero-emission city freight logistics and last-mile deliveries feature in the European Commission’s new Urban Mobility Framework, published in December 2021. ‘We want people and goods to move more sustainably in our cities, to make life easier for commuters travelling to school or work, and support cities as essential transport hubs,’  says Poala Chiarini, Policy Officer Innovation and Research, European Commission DG MOVE. This includes promoting public transport and active mobility, and prioritising zero-emission solutions for urban fleets and last-mile deliveries.

In turn, this will require new multimodal hubs, improved mobility management, and innovation to address challenges such as congestion and emissions. Poala says ‘the Commission wants greater collaboration between local authorities and private stakeholders, improved integration of cities as logistics hubs with long-distance freight, more work at an EU level on data collection and sharing for urban freight, and accelerating development and deployment of sustainable solutions like cargo bikes’. Proposed actions include:

  • Integrating sustainable urban logistics plans (SULPs) in the SUMP framework.
  • Greater dialogue between parties.
  • Possible revisions to CO2 emissions performance standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Speeding up digitalisation, including a common European mobility data space and a proposed revision of the ITS Directive.

If this is the policy context, what are companies and cities already doing to make it a reality?

Shaping the cities of tomorrow

‘Google is helping to shape the cities of tomorrow, offering a scalable and secure unified Multimodal Management Platform,’ says Chacasta Pritlove, Public Sector Account Executive at Google, a Presenting Partner at the European Congress. Google solutions include Android Auto for in-car connectivity, Waymo (autonomous driving), Waze (satellite navigation) and Wing (delivery drones).

A key goal is reducing traffic while ensuring businesses and individuals receive deliveries in a timely manner. It is possible, for example, to create a modern predictive platform including rail transport to integrate and orchestrate freight movements with passengers; logistics companies can plan, ship, track and pay for deliveries and shipments while simultaneously contributing to carbon reduction. In addition, Urban Consolidation Centres are an increasingly popular concept: larger long-distance trucks delivered to a distribution hub on a city’s outskirts where contents are unpacked and then delivered to their final destinations in smaller electric vehicles. Google innovations for last-mile deliveries include Sidewalk Labs’ urban design platform Delve, Pebble for parking and curb management, and Google Maps’ Last-Mile Fleet Solution.

Samuel Pierce of Cycling Industries Europe believes cargo bikes are a highly effective solution for zero-emission urban logistics, especially last-mile deliveries. Faster and cleaner than vans, ‘Cargo bikes help de-congest cities, particularly where cycling-specific infrastructure exists. They are energy efficient, support active travel, reduce noise, and reclaim street space for people.’ With air pollution Europe’s most significant environmental health risk, responsible for 4000,000 premature deaths annually, plus the unstoppable rise of deliveries to the doorstep, their potential is clear. The Horizon2020 funded City Changer Cargo Bike project has been exploring opportunities presented by cargo bikes, micro hubs and micro consolidation centres.

A city perspective: data for sustainable urban mobility

As Finland’s third-largest city and growing fast, Tampere wants to help people rethink mobility, optimise existing systems, improve quality, and ‘build new’ in ways that have the greatest impacts. In 2022, the city’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan was recognised as the best in Europe.

A key issue is how to collect, connect and utilise mobility data in the best ways and make it easily accessible to citizens as new City Hubs develop. ‘We already have some data to support our efforts, particularly in terms of rethink and optimise,’ says Tiina Leinonen, Mobility Coordinator Climate and Environmental Policy Unit at the City of Tampere, an ERTICO Partner. For example, a mobility CO2 calculator gives citizens personalised information on their journeys, emissions, most-used modes, etc. ‘It makes people rethink how they want to live and move around,’ Tiina says. It also provides information and mapping for traffic and city planning. Tampere also has an IoT platform that piggybacks on its streetlight infrastructure, providing a sensor network for data collection, with Traffic Monitoring using cameras and image analysis using pattern recognition tools. The insights gained can be shared to engage citizens and nudge their decision making towards more sustainable mobility.

Bringing it all together

‘Our role is to connect the dots, harnessing all the talents and technologies and helping to focus development in the best ways,’ says Lisa Boch-Andersen, Director of Communications, Congresses & Events, ERTICO-ITS Europe. “The European Congress brings us together, demonstrating the diversity of our community and showcasing real-life innovation. It’s an unmissable event for everyone involved in ITS, so please join us in Toulouse.”

Register now for the ITS European Congress – it includes more than 100 technical sessions, high-level programme with four key Plenaries, exhibitors, networking opportunities, and innovative demonstrations, including autonomous vehicles, advanced driver assistance, connected mobility and drones.

Watch the full recording of the fourth webinar here.