Polis Newsletter
Spring | April 2016

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Welcome to the Polis public newsletter!

Dear colleagues,

22 May marks the deadline to submit abstracts for the 2016 Polis Conference (1-2 December 2016)!

Hosted this year by Polis president Rotterdam, the conference is our annual highlight where Polis members, researchers, industry representatives and instiutions discuss the whole spectrum of urban transport challenges and innovations. Read more about the Call for Speakers in this newsletter.

This newsletter also highlights other key events that have just taken place or are coming up, and features some nice stories from the Polis membership.

We wish you a pleasant read!

Karen Vancluysen
Secretary General


Polis is the network of European cities and regions working together to deploy innovative technologies and policies for a more sustainable mobility. About Polis.

Polis Network News

2016 Polis Conference: Call for speakers open!

We invite local and regional authorities but also researchers, industry representatives, consultants and those working for networks, Institutions or other authorities to submit an abstract for the 2016 Annual Polis Conference "Innovation in transport for sustainable cities and regions". The conference takes place on 1-2 December 2016 in Rotterdam, NL.

Please find the list of priority topics in the "Call for Speakers". Don’t miss this opportunity to showcase your urban transport innovations.

Abstracts can be submitted until 22 May 2016.

About the conference

The Polis Annual Conferences provide an opportunity for cities and regions to showcase their transport achievements to a large audience and for the wider transport community to engage with representatives of city and regional authorities on innovative transport solutions.

An inspirational workshop on the best of Dutch cycling culture

On Monday April 25 we invited all our Dutch members to come over to Brussels and show their innovations in the field of cycling at a workshop on "The best of Dutch cycling culture" with the aim to share best practices and present cutting edge bicycle projects for other cities and regions in Europe to learn from. The event was organised in the frame of the Cycling Festival Europe 2016, which was launched during the Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU, and with the support of the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

This event was a unique opportunity to hear great stories directly from the Dutch on how the Netherlands have become a leading cycling nation.

Cycling Festival Europe 2016

During the Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU, the Netherlands is offering a Cycling Festival to Europe, providing a stage to the growing cycling culture in European cities and countries.

The Festival launched on April 14th and runs through June 30th. Several activities will be organized or sponsored by the Dutch Embassies throughout capitals in Europe.

This Polis workshop was organised in partnership with the Dutch Embassy in Brussels and saw the kind partecipation of Ms. Sanne Westra of the Dutch Embassy in Berlin and project coordinator of Cycling Festival, who opened the workshop and introduced the initiative. Watch this video.

The essence of Dutch cycling culture

Then we had a series of short presentations by our Dutch members. These were some of the best cycling and mobility experts coming from all corners of the Netherlands:

  • We learnt more from John Akkerhuis about how Rotterdam - the current Polis network president - has involved cyclists in a participatory planning exercise to develop a sound bicycling plan.
  • Sjors van Duren from Province of Gelderland and Program director Velo-city 2017, explained that good cooperation between municipalities, region and other governmental bodies is key to success of cycling projects. Sjors also showed us several images of large infrastructure projects, bicycle tracks, bridges and tunnels in Arnhem Nijmegen City Region. Cyclists' paradise on earth!
  • Mariska Slots from Calllock bike sharing shared her views on current challenges of implementing bike-sharing systems in the Netherlands, and how bike-sharing systems can solve (partially) typical Dutch problems, such as bicycle parking.
  • Finding a free bicycle rack nearby train stations in the Netherlands - I'm telling you - can be a real daily challenge! Therefore, Utrecht's project of building the world's largest bicycle parking facility with around 14,000 places in total left us astonished. "And still the city expects further growth towards 2030..." said Frans Jan van Rossem, Programme manager for cycling, City of Utrecht. Watch this video.
  • Roger Heijltjes from Province North-Brabant, showed an overview of the multiple cycling projects in Brabant, including data collection of cycling trips via mobile apps, and gamification.
  • Rick Lindeman, Programme Manager “A deeper role in biking” at Rijkswaterstaat (Executive Agency of the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) focused on bicycling, health benefits and the role of the central government in supporting local cycling projects.
  • "Bicycling in the Netherlands is really a mainstream activity" said Hillie Talens, CROW (technology platform for transport, infrastructure and public space). "The use of the bike is so common in the Netherlands that nobody considers him- or herself as a cyclist." More recently CROW has developed bicycle streets and bicycle highways to complete the network, and renewed the design of bike lanes based on field tests and research. A new handbook for practitioners is now beign developed.
  • We also learnt more about the CycleSpace programme in the city-region of Amsterdam. The initiative aims to build a network of organizations, startups and brands to accelerate the uptake of cycling as a primary mode of urban transport internationally.
  • Last but not least! The countdown has started for the 2017 edition of the Velo-city conference which next year will be hosted by Polis member Arnhem Nijmegen on June 13-16. Cécile de Boer, EU Representative of Arnhem Nijmegen City Region here in Brussels has invited us all to the Netherlands next Summer!

To conclude, we took a family picture and had a toast to celebrate the Cycling Festival Europe in Brussels.

Family picture taken at

Photo: Family picture taken at "The best of Dutch cycling culture" workshop on April 25th, 2016 in Brussels

More information:

People in Gent cycle more!

Bicycle use in the city of Gent has tripled over the past three years. Car use decreased with 20 percent in the same period. These are results from a study that the city conducted last year to monitor the travel behaviour of its residents.

"One year before our new traffic routing plan enters into forcce, it is good to hear that people are willing to make the modal shift", says Mobiltiy councillor Filip Watteeuw. In comparison with a similar study conducted in 2012, the number of cycling inhabitants of Gent increased from 22 percent to 30 percent. 45 percent prefered the car. in 2015, this was 54 percent.

Gent is currently preparing its new traffic routing plan, to be launched on the 3rd of April 2017; It will divert through traffic to the ring road, and will relief the inner city from unnecessary motorised traffic.

Polis Side Event "Creating the liveable, inclusive and healthy city" at the International Transport Forum on 18 May 2016 in Leipzig, Germany

The Polis Working Group on Environment & Health in Transport in cooperation with the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP) and the PASTA project, will host a Side Event during the 2016 International Transport Forum Summit on May 18th. The event will outline the link between health and transport, including the Health economic assessment tool (HEAT) for walking and cycling, and air quality. You're invited!

Active travel is at the core of healthy, sustainable and more inclusive urban livelihoods for all. The event will showcase a range of transport, health and environment projects about promoting physical activity through sustainable transport approaches, as well as where national policy has been successfully implemented at local level.

The Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP) will conclude the debate by discussing the challenges and opportunities of linking public health and transport by applying health economic assessment tools and policy instruments to meet the transport and mobility needs of large urban agglomerations.

For more information, please visit the event webpage and have a look at the programme outline directly on the International Transport Forum website.

When and where

The Side Event will take place on May 18th, from 4:45pm to 6:15pm, Hall 5 Level +1.

Congress Center Leipzig - Leipziger Messe GmbH, Messe-Allee 1, 04536 Leipzig Germany

You must be registered to the International Trasnport Forum summit to attend the Polis Side Event.

For more information, please contact: Dr. Florinda Boschetti, Polis, rue du Trône 98, B-1050 Brussels, E-mail: FBoschetti@polisnetwork.eu or phone +32 2 500 5674.

Sintropher project database launched on Polis website

Two new reference databases deriving from the Sintropher project have been made available on the Polis website. The databases are on financing transport infrastructure, and technologies for light rail/tram systems.

POLIS is pleased to announce the addition of more than 20 Sintropher papers to our documents database available on the Polis website. The papers are followint thematic areas: Innovative approaches to the financing of transport infrastructure, and innovative technologies for light rail/tram systems (also relevant to bus and rail). Each reference database consists of a typology of approaches, and series of briefing papers with example city/region case studies.

Background: Sintropher project

These have been developed by University College London as part of the SINTROPHER transport project (Sustainable Integrated Transport Options for Peripheral European Regions) which is funded by the EU’s North West Europe transnational cooperation programme under INTERREG IVB. The project aim is to develop sustainable, cost-effective solutions to improve connectivity to, from and within poorly connected regions in North-West Europe. The 16 partners worked together on feasibility evaluations, pilot investments and demonstration projects, including tram-train systems, pioneered in Germany - firstly in Karlsruhe and developed in Kassel - which allow urban tram systems to extend over national rail tracks to serve extensive city regions; other innovative systems such as the major single-track tram system recently built in Valenciennes; and high-quality transport interchanges that link such systems to major national or transnational rail or air hubs. www.sintropher.eu

The briefing papers on light rail/tram technologies reflect potentials for lower-cost solutions, and/or lower CO2 emissions, and possibilities to run electric vehicles on non-electrified routes. The briefing papers on financing, recognise that new tram-based or tram-train proposals are usually technically feasible and can often offer a reasonably positive investment case - especially if the case goes wider than conventional cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to include realisation of territorial objectives and benefits, such as economic growth and social opportunities. But implementation can be impeded by lack of available funding due to cuts in public expenditure following the European economic crisis of 2008 and subsequent recovery efforts by national governments. Regions that are weaker in population or economic terms have even more difficulty in justifying an investment case in terms of public expenditure, so innovative financing is of growing importance - and much can be learned from approaches in different European countries.

Access the papers


Colin Osborne
Sintropher Project Manager
University College London

Dr. Robin Hickman
Project Director/Reader in Transport & City Planning
University College
London r.hickman@ucl.ac.uk

Popular 3rd SUMP Conference in Bremen

On 12-13 April 2016, over 400 participants and experts from the fields of transport planning and development, research and politics gathered in Bremen for the 3rd Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans to discuss about new planning strategies, to share ideas, solutions and success stories.

The main theme of the conference, ‘Planning the efficient city’, was addressed by around 70 speakers in 16 interactive sessions centred around the four key topics: ‘The big picture’, ‘New horizons’, ‘The integration challenge’ and ‘Planning techniques’. New topics such as planning for more resilient cities, planning for a multicultural society, automated urban road transport or electro-mobility were explored.


Photos: Wolfgang Loock and Eduardo CintaThe 3rd SUMP Conference was organised There are lessons to be learnt from places like Bremen who has one of the lowest congestion rates in Europe and was the winner of the SUMP Award in 2014. At the end of the conference, Senator Dr. Joachim Lohse, City of Bremen, concluded with the following inspiring learning points:


  • …develop the 100% perfect project that cannot possibly be improved by anybody else’s ideas!
  • …tell your council or parliament that, without any alternative, they must give you 50 million Euros to finance it!
  • …engage people, instead of listening to what they want, by rather explaining to them in every detail how brilliant your project is!


  • …look around who your critics are, and if they are relevant, then take them on board and give them a role!
  • …remind everybody of their multiple mobility needs: a car driver is a pedestrian immediately after he leaves his car; he may have children or elderly parents who also want to move around safely; and each person on a bicycle or tram means one car less in front of you in the morning congestion!
  • …agree on overall targets before going into detail – and if your project does not deliver against the requirements, improve it or forget it!

Online consultation on "The Bremen Declaration" on Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning in Europe

The closing plenary panel discussion chaired by Daniela Roșca (European Commission DG MOVE), was followed by the public release of the Bremen Declaration on Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning in Europe. The purpose of the declaration is to place the European sustainable urban mobility planning guidelines firmly in the context of the reality of European cities. Among the key points: “Put people ahead of vehicles!” The declaration will soon be available on Eltis to endorsements and comments, including by those who were not part of the SUMP Conference, for the next four weeks.


The full set of presentations will soon be made available on Eltis.

The conference in pictures:

Visual impressions can be here (photos by Willy Kaemena).

Your own impressions can be shared on Dropbox. We provide photos, images and logos for press purposes. The copies are free of charge to use with attribution of copyright. The conference organisation team has obtained permission from the photographers for the use of their photos.


A truly useful conference is about to close - a New Mobility Culture Era is rising” tweeted Anneli Hulthén, former Mayor of Gothenburg and one of the keynote speakers at the conference. Check out more inspiring conference tweets at #SUMPconference.

Past events

The European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans is the principal annual event for all those involved in turning the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan concept into practice. You can find out more about the past SUMP Conferences in Bucharest (2015) and Sopot (2014) by checking the ELTIS events.

Stay informed

For regular updates on upcoming SUMP conferences follow Eltis.

Should you have any enquiries related to the 3rd SUMP Conference, then please contact the SUMP conference secretariat at SUMPConference@rupprecht-consult.eu

Final conference of CityMobil2 project on automated road passenger transport

After nearly four years of demonstrating fully automated road transport systems in 7 towns and cities across Europe, the CityMobil2 partners would like to share the projects results and their thoughts for the future deployment of these systems. The final conference will take place in San Sebastián from 1-2 June 2016.

CityMobil2 final conference attendees will:

  • Find out about the results of the demonstrations and upscaling proposals
  • Gain insight to the process of preparing and implementing a fully automated road transport system
  • Learn about the CityMobil2 proposal for a European legal framework to certify a fully automated road transport system
  • Discover how other road users interact with fully automated vehicles
  • Learn about and share views on the above and many other CityMobil2 activities

During the conference, attendees will also have the opportunity to visit the CityMobil2 demonstration at the technology park of San Sebastián.

Further information

Visit the conference webpage on the CityMobil2 website to access the draft conference programme, online registration as well as other information.

Registration policy

- Participation is limited to two persons per organisation except for CityMobil2 partners

- Registration confirmation will be provided by email.



Member in the Spotlight: Amsterdam’s new Strategy for Road Safety

The City of Amsterdam is preparing a new Strategic Plan for Road Safety.

The Plan should help to reduce the number of road accidents taking into account that new safety issues in Amsterdam are mostly linked to the fight for limited space.

Policy-making processes in Amsterdam change from a reactive to a more proactive approach to traffic safety.

Read the full story published in Thinking Cities, Issue 5.


Click here to view a list of all recent events.

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