The MOVE TOGETHER project focused on raising citizen's awareness and appreciation of EU research on sustainable transport in the urban environment. The aim was to make people aware of what EU transport research is doing and how the research results can help if implemented in our cities to make urban transport more sustainable, i.e. safer, more secure, more efficient and better for the environment and to improve the quality of life.
A key expectation was that better people awareness of the results of EU research on urban sustainable mobility may lead to more responsible choices: letting people step away from the use of their cars or mopeds as the preferred option in any circumstance, even when time and space resources are severely limited as in today's urban environments. At the same time, it is important to create an early climate of open dialogue and trust between the experts and decision-makers on one hand (who take care of studying and applying the solutions for better and more sustainable mobility in the city) and the citizens on the other, who are eventually affected by the decision to implement those solutions. This might facilitate a greater use of collective transport alternatives (including any form of mass public transport, flexible on demand services, car pooling, car sharing etc.) and/or an increased acceptance of restrictions to the free individual use of privately owned vehicles when necessary.
The MOVE TOGETHER key message was 'we do not move alone, we always move around the city together with many other people'. The obvious consequence is that when we approach or enter the city driving our car, our movement is increasingly regulated by traffic lights, one-way streets, access and parking limitations and more recently by charging the access and off-street parking in the most congested areas of the city at certain hours of the day. Another consequence is that we may find it more practical to use public transport services, moving ourselves together with other people on buses, commuter trains, the metro etc.
However, coordinating people's daily movements in the urban environment (including city centres and traffic from/to the suburbs) is increasingly complex and the matter is complicated even more by the need to also coordinate the daily distribution of goods. For this reason the ordinary supply of mobility services; road infrastructure, public transport services, etc. is needed, but is not enough to tackle the current increasing demand of urban transport in Europe and the associated problems of chronic congestion, environmental pollution and road traffic accidents. We need more and we need to research innovative approaches and solutions continuously to make urban transport more sustainable, i.e. safer, more secure, more efficient and better for the environment.
This is what is being done and in particular, in several cities within Europe with the support of EU-funded research projects. The overall aim of the MOVE TOGETHER project was therefore, to raise the awareness of European citizens of EU research on urban transport and the recommendations of this research on how to increase sustainability. The underlying logic of the project was that citizens were made aware of the local, urban and environmental problems through their everyday experiences, yet that this awareness was based on tacit knowledge. Making this knowledge more explicit through dialogue and enlarging the knowledge-base through scientific results could contribute towards changes in both attitudes and behaviour, as well as more active citizenship participation with respect to transport policy.
The project included three main activities:
- Developing a citizens' appreciation of EU research on sustainable urban transport at the European Union level: this was done with the help of a transnational focus group of citizens from different cities in the 27 EU Member States. They participated in two workshops and a European citizens' and stakeholders' conference, organised at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, on June 16th 2008. They expressed their appreciation of the existing research based on the review of knowledge research on urban transport, produced by the Move Together project team.
- Raising the awareness and appreciation of EU-funded research for sustainable mobility in the city of Rome: this was done with the help of a randomly selected panel of 25 local citizens, living in the different districts of the city and in the surrounding municipalities. They participated in a local conference process in Rome, including two citizens' workshops and a final conference, in the period September - November 2008. Their attention was focused on the achieved and/or expected outcomes of current EU-funded research and demonstration activities in the Rome area. The local debate took stock of the citizens' appreciation of research at EU level (first activity above).
- Wide communication of the citizens' appreciation of EU research on urban transport, as expressed at the EU level and at local level for the emblematic case of Rome. This was done until the end of 2009, through media events, a travelling exhibition, town exhibitions and other standard dissemination activities (e.g. newsletter). In particular, a travelling MOVE TOGETHER exhibition was planned to start in June 2009 in Vienna at the next UITP World Congress and then travel to Nantes (World Sustainable Mobility Forum) in July, Naples (Mobility Tech) in September, Budapest in October and Brussels in November 2009. Town exhibitions were held in a number of other cities (between 10 and 20 were selected during a tendering procedure) during the European Mobility Week in 2009.
In brief, the MOVE TOGETHER project led to the achievement of the following results:
- It enabled transport to become more sustainable by means of public participation and has allowed public opinions to be heard by the local authorities and policy-makers;
- Consulting a panel of European citizens, the project was able to predict the impact of EU research programmes on their daily life;
- It furthermore, showed how individual choices can positively influence urban mobility and quality of life;
- The project has also encouraged greater public support and participation in planning measures and the implementation of EU research and sustainable transport policies in Europe's cities.
Involvement with the two citizens groups has resulted in two 'Move Together citizens declarations' at the EU and the local levels. The declarations included a series of messages highlighting citizens' understanding of EU research on urban transport and its impact on their day-to-day lives. These experiences have been communicated to the wider public through a travelling exhibition that has visited Vienna, Rome, Budapest, Nice and Brussels.
A final conference was organised and a poster exhibition appeared across Europe. The conference included EU policy-makers and stakeholders, representatives of the cities hosting Move Together exhibitions and members of the citizens' panels.
The project has successfully facilitated public participation in the planning and implementation of urban sustainable transport research. The overall result has been a positive impact on the quality of life of EU citizens.
The following recommendations can be used, not only in the urban transport sector, focused in Move Together, but also in many other research and policy fields the EU is involved in, such as health, environment, etc.
Key recommendations stemming from the Move Together citizen's declarations included:
- Coordination across Europe to avoid duplication;
- Focus on the needs of the end-user;
- Putting the citizen at the heart of EU policy-making and sustainability research efforts;
- Better communication of European research and policy aims and results;
- Long-term solutions for current problems, with a global reach.
Innovating for the future: Promoting more sustainable development.