Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans are strategic plans designed to satisfy the mobility needs of people and businesses in cities and surrounding areas for an improved quality of life.

They are the result of an integrated planning and address all modes and forms of transport in cities and their surrounding area. Many different approaches exist to sustainable urban mobility planning throughout Europe.

SUMPs focus on an interdisciplinary approach to transport planning. Traditional transport planning focuses on traffic whereas SUM planning focuses on people.

If you plan for cars and traffic you get cars and traffic whereas if you plan for people and places you get people and places

Frank Wefering, Rupprecht Consult

SUMPs should build on existing planning practices and takes due consideration for policies and measures that address all modes and forms of transport. The plan should be used to tackle transport-related problems in urban areas more efficiently. Building on existing practices, its basic characteristics are:

  • A participatory approach – involving citizens and stakeholders from the outset and throughout the process of decision making, implementation and
    evaluation, building local capacities for handling complex planning issues, and ensuring gender equity;
  • A pledge for sustainability: balancing social equity, environmental quality and economic development;
  • An integrated approach of practices and policies between policy sectors, between authority levels, and between neighbouring authorities ensuring
    benefits to for example the health sector through reduced air pollution are a factor in the decision making process;
  • A focus on achieving measurable targets, derived from short term objectives and in line with the vision for transport;
  • A review of transport costs and benefits, taking into account wider societal costs and benefits.

To begin an urban area defines the existing baseline transport scenario. This helps with defining the vision for an improved transport system. Policies and measures that will help achieve this vision should be outlined, including assigning responsibilities and resources to proposed measures. An important step is allowing for monitoring and evaluation of arrangements and measures undertaken.

A full SUMP cycle includes four main phases:

  • Preparing well for the planning process
  • Rational and transparent goal setting
  • Elaborating the plan
  • Implementing the plan

Experience has shown that SUMPs can offer a large variety of benefits to municipalities and their wider communities, including:

  • Better quality of life
  • Environmental and health benefits
  • Improved mobility and accessibility
  • Improved image of a city
  • Potential to reach more people
  • Citizen- and stakeholder supported decisions
  • Effective fulfilment of legal obligations
  • New political vision
  • Integration potential
  • Improvement of a city’s competitiveness / Access and link to funding

The success of SUMPs depend on ensuring a long-term sustainable transport vision and development process by securing support from all stakeholders, for example politicians and businesses and engaging citizens. A key success factor is measuring the impact of measures, for example

The article follows on a workshop about SUMP-SEAP experiences, titled A more integrated planning approach for a sustainable future. Presentations and workshop summaries from the event can be found here.

Other relevant articles:

Poly-SUMP – The future of regional sustainable mobility

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