The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs.
The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy.
Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules: A Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects;
- B Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects;
- C Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments;
- D Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites;
- E Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts;
- F Technologies: Potentials and Impacts;
- M Materials;
- S Synthesis Projects.
The project, entitled 'Strategies for the promotion of pedestrian and cycle traffic – obstacles to implementation', was facilitated by the Swiss National Fund within the NFP 41 framework 'Traffic and the Environment'. Additional support was provided by the Federal Office for Public Health, the Federal Office for Education and Science within the COST programme, and by the Federal Office for Environment, Forests and Countryside.
Various researchers from universities and private organisations contributed their expertise in answering the questions presented about 'slow' moving traffic.
The importance of pedestrian and cycle traffic, its advantages and related problems, the scope for action and obstacles were discussed mainly on the basis of existing literature.
This state-of-the-art report reflects current research results and develops effective actions and guidance for overcoming existing obstacles on the basis of known measures to exploit all potential solutions.
Additionally, a major emphasis was placed on implementation. Shortcomings in research were established, and the results are intended to be both practical and scientific.
Suitable promotional measures could increase cycle and pedestrian traffic by 50% and 20% respectively, and reduce car traffic by 20%, as shown by a study of the research programme 'Transport and Environment'.
The study calls for an 'Action Programme - Pedestrian and Cycle Traffic 2000plus'. Half of all trips in Switzerland is on foot and by cycle and yet - numerous obstacles still hinder the spread of these most environmentally friendly means of travelling.
A project of the National Research Programme 'Transport and Environment' has investigated obstacles and opportunities which were then discussed by a conference of experts.
The results have now been published. The research team analysed extensive foreign experience and promotion and revealed that within some 10 years cycle traffic volume could be increased from 10% to about 15%, and even 20% would be feasible through the introduction of a different framework (e.g. higher costs for motorised traffic). With regard to the driven mileage, crossover effects would be less, but a car mileage reduction of 10% would reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by about one million tons per year.
The authors demonstrate in detail that, in many aspects, road laws, transport policies, planning and funding, do not treat pedestrian and cycle traffic equally.
Accordingly, they sketch a 'National Action Programme - Pedestrian and Cycle Traffic 2000plus', demanding significant support and improved co-ordination for pedestrian and cycle traffic from the Federal Government, Cantonal authorities and Communities.
Synthesis: A future for noiseless mobility
Four factors argue for the promotion of pedestrian and cycle traffic:
The promotion of pedestrian and cycle traffic offers significant opportunities: alternative transport, energy savings, protection of the environment, economic and health benefits.
Many efficient measures for the promotion of pedestrian and cycle traffic are available and awaiting implementation.
Land use and urban planning provide key instruments to secure or reintroduce settlement structures orientated at pedestrian and cycle traffic.
The promotion of pedestrian and cycle traffic would especially benefit children, women, and elderly people.
On the other hand, there are many reasons and obstacles preventing or hindering adequate promotion of pedestrian and cycle traffic:
Biased recognition of everyday mobility and traffic problems.
Lack of funding mechanisms that are available to other traffic participants.
Insufficient institutionalisation of pedestrian and cyclist concerns in government bodies.
Inadequate distribution of tasks and responsibilities between different political levels.
Intensive promotion of pedestrian and cycle traffic is crucial for a sustainable transport policy that is only possible within the framework of a federal government programme.
For Switzerland, a programme to be called 'Pedestrian and Cycle Traffic 2000plus' is suggested, which could also be applied to other countries. Such a programme would involve – under the guidance of one main office for pedestrian and cycle traffic – several federal offices responsible for interest groups and other government levels, affecting a variety of political sectors and responsibilities.
A further element of the programme is the creation of awareness of th