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Exchanging ideas, finding answers
Exchanging ideas, finding answers CIVITAS cities across Europe share best-practice transport solutions

Since the CIVITAS Initiative was launched in 2002, almost 60 European cities have received EU-funding that has helped them implement innovative measures in clean and sustainable city transport. In addition, more than 200 cities are part of the CIVITAS Forum Network, which is designed explicitly to enable the active sharing of experience and ideas. Transparency is key: Members say that hearing about ideas that worked is equally as valuable as hearing about ideas that didn't work.

An annual highlight of the Initiative is the announcement of the CIVITAS Award winners, including City of the Year. A common denominator among recent winners is a commitment to exchanging experience. As one stated: "Winning the City of the Year Award put our information-sharing with other cities into high-gear."

Utrecht: 2011 CIVITAS City of the Year

Utrecht: 2011 CIVITAS City of the Year Dominique Simhoffer is the Communications Manager for Mobility for the City of Utrecht in the Netherlands. "The fact that we won the Award is an honour and it has given us energy. We already knew we were doing good work, but now it has been confirmed by the EU."

Simhoffer reports that Utrecht has absorbed a great deal of information from other CIVITAS cities, and intends on adopting some lessons learned. She took the example of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia and a fellow CIVITAS MIMOSA member: "Tallinn has devised creative ways to influence mobility decisions and increase ridership. To help make the option of bus transportation more attractive, and get across the 'clean and safe' message, they wrapped one bus and the bus station in giant wool scarves. This 'knitting graffiti' was a great idea, and a unique way to get the attention of the public."

Using Tallinn's strategy of "pulling the heartstrings" as a model, Utrecht researched how they could increase the use of car sharing in their own city. They carried out extensive lifestyle research that led to a segmentation model. Results were divided by region, age, life phase, education and values. Combining the lessons learned within the CIVITAS MIMOSA group and the car sharing-focused lifestyle research results, Utrecht is now in the process of developing a "lifestyle and feelings-based mobility marketing plan." It expects to put it into place in early 2012.

New ways of thinking

Utrecht: 2011 CIVITAS City of the Year
Photo by Patrick Garçon
Its involvement in CIVITAS several years ago inspired Nantes Metropole (Greater Nantes) to improve cross-function team integration. Anne Vicenzotti, coordinator for European mobility projects for Greater Nantes explains, "Thanks to the integrated approach of the programme, we began to encourage Nantes employees to work together across departments. People who might not have typically interacted began to forge relationships." A lasting benefit is a now-institutionalised connection between the urban department of Nantes Metropole, and its public transport department. Vicenzotti explains that these two policies are now coordinated such that each other's projects have to be taken into account before launching new activities.

In 2005 Nantes attended a CIVITAS project meeting in Bremen, where they enthusiastically discovered first-hand Bremen's post-payment ticket method. The French city and its public transport operator SEMITAN are currently developing a comparable system that will roll out in 2013. Similarly, Bremen's successful experience in carpooling has been very inspiring for Nantes, who now benefits from its own rapidly expanding service.

Vicenzotti says the biggest benefit of Nantes' involvement in CIVITAS, notwithstanding their recognition as 2009 CIVITAS City of the Year, has been their growing awareness of the need to simultaneously address the whole range of issues included in the concept of "sustainable mobility."

"We have been impressed by the power of soft measures and marketing campaigns in other cities," Vicenzotti says. "Having developed a performing PT network is a major step but is not enough". Thanks to these soft measures, cities can bring about more efficient urban transport by influencing travel behaviour and modal choice through mobility management plans, marketing, communication, education and information campaigns. "Applying for the Award made us pause and think about the evolution of Nantes' programmes, and what we could do to help change mobility behaviours."

CIVITAS: Awarding Excellence

Since 2003 the number of entries received for the annual CIVITAS Awards has increased year-on-year. In fact, 2011 saw a 58 percent rise in the number of entries compared to 2010. Three CIVITAS awards are presented each year at the CIVITAS Forum Conference: Award for Technical Innovation, Award for Public Participation, and the City of the Year Award. The City of the Year Award recognises the CIVITAS member that has been most active, responsible and progressive in developing sustainable mobility measures.

The Forum Conference brings together members of the CIVITAS Network for an exchange of dialogue. Participants include municipal leaders, European politicians, and experts in the field of urban mobility. The CIVITAS Forum Network currently includes more than 200 cities from 31 European countries that have formally committed to clean and sustainable urban transport.

CIVITAS - cleaner and better transport in cities - stands for CIty-VITAlity-Sustainability. The CIVITAS Initiative helps cities share solutions and transfer urban mobility know-how. Through CIVITAS, the European Commission is supporting and evaluating the implementation of ambitious integrated sustainable urban transport strategies that should make a real difference for the welfare of the European citizen.

CIVITAS ONLINE is your portal to the CIVITAS Initiative. Visit the CIVITAS website to learn more about the CIVITAS Forum City Network, the ambitious policies and innovative measures many of its memebers have implemented, and how you can learn more about these at the annual CIVITAS Forum Conference.

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