Online meeting report: safe and sustainable urban mobility post COVID-19

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GLA’s Head of Air Quality, Elliot Treharne spoke about London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone.
GLA’s Head of Air Quality, Elliot Treharne spoke about London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone.
Caroline Watson outlined the COVID-19 response measures taken by the C40 city network.
Caroline Watson outlined the COVID-19 response measures taken by the C40 city network.

The safe and sustainable mobility agenda can be strengthened by city leadership in the post COVID-19 context, say speakers and participants of the FIA Foundation's first special online meeting, but only with the data, funding, and global advocacy to secure sustained political and public support.

More than 90 global mobility experts - including representatives from National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), World Resources Institute (WRI) and Global NCAP - joined the special online meeting to discuss the implications of the COVID-19 crisis on sustainable mobility. During the two hour session, the first in a series organised by the Foundation, participants considered the emerging evidence and impact of individual cities’ policies and identified the resources, action and advocacy needed to embed them into urban decision making.

Presentations of current city mobility responses were introduced by Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation, followed by an online discussion led by Sheila Watson, Deputy Director of the Foundation. Presenter Caroline Watson, C40 Cities Programme Director for Transportation and Urban Planning, gave an insight into the latest policy developments and their impact across the global C40 city network, while presenter Elliot Treharne, Head of Air Quality for Greater London Authority (GLA), described actions taken in London to address air quality and repurpose streets for changing demands. Both emphasized the need for well-resourced support and capacity-building going forward from the crisis but also reinforced the potential for urban leadership to seize the opportunity to drive real improvements for healthier and safer streets.

The discussion drew out five key urban mobility challenges: addressing the tension between social distancing and the need to continue to promote public transport; how to address public vehicle use; how to promote active mobility; the vital role of targets funding as part of every country’s recovery; and support cities across all regions and stages of development need to secure future mobility.

Sheila Watson, Deputy Director of the FIA Foundation, said: “This discussion with leading mobility specialists and long-term Foundation partners crystallises the particular opportunities for the preservation of health and life from the darkness of this global pandemic. It also highlights the potential risk of slippage back without targeted action and funding to ensure public transport and active transport needs are met, in tandem with vehicle standard improvement. There is a wealth of positive action taking place in cities around the world and it is our duty to ensure that the best practices and practical support are shared with all city leaderships, giving urban citizens everywhere a chance for a safer, cleaner and more sustainable future.”

This was the first of a series of online meetings convened by the FIA Foundation, designed to catalyse action through expert knowledge-sharing and targeted forthcoming funding by the Foundation.

Read the full report here