In this editon

Amsterdam • Arnhem-Nijmegen • Baden-Württemberg • Basel • Bern • Brussels • Budapest • Catalonia • Dublin • Groningen • Helmond • Jerusalem • Kaunas • Leuven • Limburg • Madrid • Occitania • Örebro • Wrocław • Zurich

Onwards and upwards...

POLIS Secretary General Karen Vancluysen looks forward to an unprecedented Annual Conference at the end of the most unprecedented of years where cities and regions have had to adapt to the new reality of their surroundings

2020 has changed the face of urban mobility. As COVID-19 has ravaged our cities and regions, they have had to respond to the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic on transport. The last issue of Thinking Cities, published in June at the height of the pandemic, began to examine this, exploring our preliminary responses, and casting our eyes forward to how urban transport may continue to transform not just our transport services, but the entire meaning of sustainable mobility. Five months on, the pandemic continues to grip our cities and climate targets loom larger than ever. Many of the predictions made in June have come to fruition; many have not been quite so accurate. Nonetheless, what is clear is the zeal amongst local authorities, transport operators, and citizens, to pursue innovative and exciting changes in urban mobility that address the environmental sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity of transit offerings.

This issue of Thinking Cities showcases some of the pioneering efforts being established by POLIS members, and others, in low carbon transit, road safety, inclusion, public-private partnerships and more. POLIS are incredibly proud of what our members and their operating partners have achieved. Indeed, this issue coincides with the POLIS 2020 Annual Conference, the biggest event in our calendar, where mobility experts, practitioners and decision-makers join to showcase their transport achievements and learn from best practices being deployed by their peers.

While naturally this year’s event is virtual, the sessions and panels remain as inspiring, interactive, and thought-provoking as ever.

Thinking Cities aims to complement this exciting event, providing a taster of how our members and partners have been pioneering long term sustainable mobility. From Arnhem-Nijmegen, the Annual Conference’s virtual co-host, whose fast cycle networks have become a model for multimodality, to Helmond, a living lab for cutting-edge road safety technology. We also hear from several of our conference sponsors, DPD, Dott and Uber, three very different operators, but all pursing exciting sustainability agendas; as well as how POLIS’ working groups have been expanding conversations around gender and inclusivity in public transport.

The need for collaboration to overcome the climate, health and economic crises emerges throughout this publication. From public-private partnerships for traffic management, to cross border bus networks, our members are establishing durable and effective mobility partnerships. The next decade is critical, and we must rise to this challenge together. Cities and Regions hold the keys for most of the necessary changes in Urban Mobility, but these changes raise big and complex challenges – we are stepping forward to face them, but we cannot stand alone. At the POLIS Conference, during the Urban Green-Deal Makers summit, we will launch and sign the POLIS Pledge. Through the Pledge, cities and regions of all sizes show their leadership in helping to reach the ambitious targets of the European Green Deal. The more support they get, the more they will be able to deliver.

As such, our theme is “Onwards and Upwards”. In a year which has turned all our lives upside down, inside out and back to front, our cities and regions have proved their resilience and are showing how extraordinarily adaptable they can be in the most trying of circumtances. As we (finally) begin to see the light at the end of what has been a long tunnel, we must rebuild our mobility with long-term sustainability goals front and centre. We can do it, but there is not a moment to lose…

Karen Vancluysen Secretary General of Polis

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