July 2020

How the CREATE project inspired a modern approach to transport planning

The CREATE project brought together a multi-sector consortium of partners – including local and transport authorities, universities and consultancies – to better understand how cities have sought to tackle road traffic congestion. It is part of Horizon 2020, the main European funding programme for research and innovation.

The project was coordinated by UCL, with Vectos playing a key role as the principle author of the CREATE Guidelines. These comprise an overview and analysis of the transport policies applied over the last 50 years in London, Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris and Vienna. They clearly show a three stage “evolution” in policy making:

  • from car-orientated priorities in the 60s, 70s and 80s (e.g. expansion of road building and parking);
  • a push towards sustainability in the 90s and 00s (e.g. investment in public transport and cycling infrastructure); and
  • a real drive in the last 20 years towards more liveable cities (e.g. reallocating road space away from cars to sustainable modes, increasing pedestrian capacity, pursuing public health objectives).

These trends were apparent in all five cities and this evolution is also evident in hundreds of other cities across continental Europe and the UK, large and small.

A major reason for this successful transition has been where decision makers and city mayors have set the future ‘Vision’ for a liveable city, setting ambitious modal share targets, gathering public and stakeholder buy-in, then implementing the necessary measures to reach those objectives and ‘Validating’ ongoing progress. We call this the Vision and Validate approach.

The evolutionary process can be seen in the plateauing of car trips in the 90s (shown below) in each city, then the consistent reduction resulting from modal shift to the alternatives put in place.

Thanks to the Vision set by Vienna (20% car: 80% sustainable modes), and the resulting measures, the city has achieved an impressive change in behaviour, significantly reducing car use, with public transport and cycling rising. They are on track to meet their 80:20 targets as shown in the image.

The same story is apparent in London which – thanks to the expansion in public transport capacity, cycle hire and the reallocation of road space to cycle lanes and wider pavements – has accommodated a 2 million rise in population, whilst keeping road congestion levels almost unchanged. A hugely underestimated achievement.

These findings can be applied at much more local levels.

Vectos believes it is possible to accommodate new residential and mixed-use developments whilst mitigating the impacts on road congestion and air quality, so long as alternatives to using the car – and even having to travel at all – are integrated into the design.

This means enabling local living with numerous amenities on site, including nearby mobility hubs with on demand bike, ebike, cargo bike and car hire.

It means including co-working or “Third Spaces” where residents can work in a communal environment.

It means integrating a community concierge for zero emission last mile delivery of parcels.

Finally, it means designing streets, not based on assumptions of perpetual traffic growth, but which support the future vision of liveable, healthy and accessible communities. Thanks to the CREATE project, we know this is attainable.

Image credit: “Urban Mobility: Preparing for the future, learning from the past” Prof Peter Jones, UCL