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Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning – SUMP – is coming to China!

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All over the world, many cities are facing increasing levels of traffic congestion, road safety issues, as well as carbon and air pollutant emissions. In particular, the better integration of transport and urban planning is seen as a key to mitigate these effects and to create more livable cities.

To promote smart and integrated urban mobility planning, the European Commission, in 2013, published the “Guidelines on Developing and Implementing A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan”. Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, also known as SUMP, aim at satisfying the mobility needs of people and businesses while improving the quality of life. The SUMP concept has been successfully applied in various countries around the world. In order to adapt to the current mobility trends, such as vehicle automation, vehicle electrification, shared mobility and their implications in the public transport systems, the SUMP guidelines were recently updated in their second edition, which you can find here.

Picture 1 – Guidelines on Developing and Implementing A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, Second Edition

SUMP Guidelines

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH hosted the International Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning on November 15, 2019 in Beijing. At the conference, the updated guidelines were introduced and participants debated the applicability of the SUMP concept in China. The conference was a joint effort of the Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport (CLCT), the China Communications and Transportation Association (CCTA), the Jiangsu Transportation Research Institute (JSTI) and the Sino Road Institute of Transportation Science Consulting Co., Ltd (SRITS). About 100 Chinese and international experts and representatives of Chinese municipal authorities working in the field of mobility, urban planning and related sectors gathered together to jointly elaborate and debate on the advantages of the SUMP concept and the opportunities for applying SUMP in Chinese cities.

Picture 2 – SUMP Kick-Off Conference 2019

SUMP Conference

In his keynote speech, Mr. Niall Leonard, First Counsellor of the European Union Delegation to China, introduced SUMP as a conceptual tool that helps urban and transport planners as well as the citizens to cope with transport challenges and to jointly elaborate long-term visions for their cities. Mr. Li, Gang, Vice-Director of CCTA, in his opening speech highlighted SUMP as an innovative planning methodology and concept, which can contribute to China’s ambitions to foster holistic mobility planning. Mr. Sebastian Ibold, Project Director of CLCT stressed that the concept of SUMP is fully in line with China’s current development direction and related policies such as the upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and the Outline for Building China’s Strength in Transport, aiming at integrated people-centred transport and overall urban development.

Mr. Siegfried Rupprecht, CEO of Rupprecht Consult and key author of the Guidelines on Developing and Implementing A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, introduced the updated SUMP guidelines to the audience. Mr. Rupprecht stated that the guidelines can systematically guide the process of developing an urban mobility plan, which is based on 8 principles and 4 sections:

8 Principles of SUMP:

  1. Plan for sustainable mobility in the “functional urban area”
  2. Cooperate across institutional boundaries
  3. Involve citizens and stakeholders
  4. Assess current and future performance
  5. Define a long-term vision and a clear implementation plan
  6. Develop all transport modes in an integrated manner
  7. Arrange for monitoring and evaluation
  8. Assure quality

4 Sections of SUMP:

  1. Preparation and analysis
  2. Strategy development
  3. Measure planning
  4. Implementation and monitoring.

Picture 3 – 4 Sections and 12 Steps of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning

SUMP Circle

Following the introduction of the guideline, various Chinese and international speakers presented their perspectives on SUMP.

Mr. Sebastian Spundflasch, researcher at the Ilmenau University of Technology, elaborated on the main planning challenges for local authorities identified in the EU-SUITS project and stated that participation of civil society is key to ensure sustainable mobility development. Ms. Simone Fedderke of the Centre of Competence-Sustainable Urban Mobility, which was established by the State of Hesse, Germany, highlighted the importance of in-depth institutional and departmental collaboration to ensure holistic planning solutions and implementation. Mr. Michael Glotz-Richter, Senior-Project Manager at the city of Bremen, presented the experiences with integrated mobility planning of Bremen, which, based on the SUMP Guidelines, developed the Bremen Transportation Development Plan 2025. The implementation of the Plan, which focuses on the promotion of non-motorized transport, led to an increase of the share of cycling in Bremen, to a reduction of car-ownership and trips by car and thus to a reduction congestion and NO2 emissions.

Mr. Wang Jian, Scholar and transport professional at Chongqing University, elaborated on the differences and similarities between sustainable urban mobility planning and the traditional planning system and concluded that SUMP can help China to shift from comprehensive transport planning towards integrated urban mobility planning. Mr. Liu Daogang, Vice Director of Tianjin Transport Bureau, and Mr. Qian Rong, Chief Engineer of Ningbo Transport Bureau, presented the status quo and future roadmaps for the urban transport systems of the Chinese cities of Ningbo and Tianjin. Both cities are focusing on infrastructure expansion, public transport development and the application of Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) based smart transport and traffic management. Both speakers stressed that SUMP can help to foster the further integration of those measures. Mrs. Ren Shuai, Senior Manager of Didi Chuxing, the largest ride-hailing service provider in China, highlighted the role of Big Data for transport planning and outlined the role of Didi Chuxing for the diversified provision of mobility solutions. Didi Chuxing has developed a Smart Transit Planning Platform by integration of data from DiDi Chuxing and local bus operators, which is aimed to increase the quality and efficiency of local bus route planning. The platform has been applied to support the customized bus route planning in several cities in China, including Nanjing, Jinan, and Qingdao city, etc. Didi Chuxing has also designed an APP-based on-demand bus service to satisfy the “door-to-door” and “reservation-based” passengers’ requests by dynamically dispatching the buses. The system is now operating in Qingdao and Xi’an city.

In a roundtable discussion, authorities from six cities across China, together with GIZ, the international experts and other partners intensively discussed on how to pilot the concept of SUMP in Chinese cities. All parties agreed that the SUMP concept is a highly valuable methodology, which can complement the existing planning frameworks in China and that, when implementing SUMP, special emphasis needs to be put on the consideration of the fundamental specifics of the Chinese context, in particular the highly dynamic and speedy change processes and large scales of Chinese cities. The participants further stated that the SUMP concept is fully in line with the current Chinese policy roadmap of fostering integrated sustainable transport and urban development towards more livable cities.

The conference ended with the strong commitment from all cities to develop and implement their own SUMP within the framework of CLCT. This commitment and joint understanding established a solid foundation of piloting the SUMP concept in China. In addition to piloting SUMPs from next year on, a China specific adapted SUMP guideline will be developed and a training program on integrated and low-carbon transport planning shall be established and international exchange on best practices and knowledge sharing will be facilitated.

If you would like to know more about the SUMP concept, please check out episode 2 of Transition Talks – Low Carbon Transport and Future Mobility, where we asked Mr. Rupprecht to introduce SUMP.

For further information, please contact Ms. Wu Yingjie, Technical Advisor of the Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport, or Mr. Sebastian Ibold, Project Director of the Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport.

Sebastian Ibold is Project Director of the project "Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport".

Wu Yingjie is Technical Advisor to the project “Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport”. She focuses on the topics of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning and the development of national scenarios for low-carbon transportation.

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