Various legal and regulatory measures are used in different European cities to tackle traffic and environmental problems. Experiences may be transferable between cities, but this will be limited by national differences in the powers granted to local authorities. To help cities learn from each other, good practice has to be made available on a common European platform, together with advice on transferability of results.
The aims of LEDA were to:
- collect information about the use of legal and regulatory measures for city transport, and store this in an accessible database;
- present advice to local authorities on good practice and its transferability;
- develop recommendations for policy-makers at regional, national and European levels on how best to support action at the local level, e.g. by changing legal frameworks.
LEDA developed a database covering experiences with over 200 legal and regulatory measures used in 41 European cities. This is available at the project web site identified below. It enables stakeholders at a city level to search for examples of experiences with measures that interest them. A downloadable brochure is also available, covering 20 less well known but effective measures.
Analysis of national political systems showed large variations in the legal, financial and administrative powers granted to city authorities. For example, UK cities are subject to comparatively tight control from central government, whereas Swiss and Scandinavian communities exercise greater autonomy. There is a discernible trend towards delegation of power from the national to the regional level.
There was found to be no simple correlation between city characteristics and the transferability of measures between cities. Therefore, LEDA devised a set of guidelines to aid cities in assessing the transfer of experiences to their own situation. The most significant barriers to transfer proved to be political and public acceptance (which themselves are often closely related). The keys to gaining acceptance include a thorough consultation process and a targeted public awareness campaign.
Certain gaps were noted in national frameworks that inhibit the introduction of alternative transport concepts - such as car sharing, demand responsive public transport and mobility management services. For example, it may not be possible to grant preferential parking to vehicles that are used for car sharing, and information and awareness campaigns are often not covered by legislation.
The lack of region-wide co-ordinated public transport was also noted. This can result from the lack of funding authorities at a regional level. The observed shift towards greater competitive tendering of public transport services is likely to have made co-ordination more difficult.
Planning systems were noted as often being weak, in that they fail to integrate spatial development with transport and environmental aspects. For example, planning approvals may not require new developments to be sited adjacent to public transport or to have limited parking provision. The Netherlands and the UK were noted as examples of promising practice in this respect.
LEDA made a number of recommendations for policy action:
- to seek greater consistency between transport policies at national, regional and local levels;
- to transfer competencies to the local level, including decision-making authority and the power to use income from transport measures such as parking tariffs;
- to avoid a rigid link between government funding and strict compliance with government guidance on how to implement measures (such as traffic calming);
- to focus on structures that would improve regional transport development and encourage joint working between local authorities.
The project identified the need for research results such as the LEDA database to be placed on a central European web-based platform, with some infrastructure for stimulating and accepting new inputs from cities.