SUMPs in German municipalities: Results of an Online Survey,

On the European level, the concept of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) seems to be the answer for tackling urban mobility challenges. On the one hand, the SUMP approach stresses the need to integrate sustainable modes of transport in urban mobility planning. On the other hand, it presents a specific methodology to implement the planning process. As a reiterative cycle it underlines the importance of a continuous update of the planning phases and contents. Moreover, the SUMP approach highlights the importance of integrating relevant stakeholders and the public throughout the process.

As for Germany, an Online Survey, carried out in 2017/2018, tried to examine the status-quo of urban mobility planning concepts in German municipalities. A comprehensive understanding of the current state and addressed subjects of urban mobility plans Germany are marked. Obstacles and barriers as well as positive outcomes and achievements are acknowledged. Thus, the support needed and the barriers of the SUMP so far for German municipalities are identified and relevant support from both politics and other stakeholders are named.

All in all, 71 German municipalities contributed to the survey. A total of 46 municipalities (65 percent) indicated that they have developed or are developing an urban mobility plan. There is a statistical significance in the size of the municipalities, thus especially municipalities with more than 20 000 inhabitants established an urban mobility plan whereas only two municipalities with less than 20 000 inhabitants stated that they have implemented one.

As for the financing, most of the municipalities had a budget of EUR 120 000 – EUR 250 000. On average, a concept costs EUR 1.44/inhabitant. There is a statistical significance concerning budget and inhabitant.

The question arises, in how far German municipalities use the EU-wide-term Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) and in how far they implement relevant content of this methodology in the traditional German Verkehrsentwicklungsplanung (VEP). In order to gain funding from the EU, it is important to identify in how far ones concept can be related to the term SUMP, thus, this survey addresses this question in detail.

Half of the respondents defined their plan as the traditional German term Verkehrsentwicklungsplan (VEP). Due to its familiarity, this term makes it easier to communicate within the city administration and with policy makers. One argument was that using ‘VEP’ continuity of urban planning is ensured. Furthermore, municipalities argued that their plan corresponds to the traditional structure of a VEP, therefore this term was taken. As the term Verkehrsentwicklungsplan is closely related to typical German term Stadtentwicklungsplan (urban development plan) and both concepts are also in planning practice closely linked, it was evident to call the concept a VEP. Moreover, two municipalities argued that any current urban mobility plan should refer to sustainability issues, which does not mean that is necessarily has to be included in the name. Issues such as the reduction of CO2-emissions should be part of any modem urban mobility plan. A VEP can be updated with a climate change mitigation plan, thus addressing sustainability issues, without directly putting it as part of the name.

Nevertheless, there were also one third of the municipalities with an urban mobility plan which called their plan a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP). As for these municipalities, the term ‘mobility’ (which differs from the German term ‘Verkehr’ – emphasising more the movement of transport and the related infrastructural and organisational matters) was supposed to be in the centre of attention. For these municipalities it was important to highlight all modes of transport – meaning motorised as well as non-motorised traffic, including walking, in an inclusive way. Furthermore, they wanted to highlight the current change in urban transport planning. With calling their plans a SUMP, they acknowledged and thus incorporated new aspects such as climate change mitigation, a changing in mobility patterns, new technologies as well as public participation.

Traditional VEPs were meant to be revised towards a more sustainable approach of urban planning. Additionally, funding was an important fact for calling the plan a SUMP. As for three municipalities, the reason for choosing SUMP as defining their plan was a result of the need to get funding from the EU or from other funding projects (e.g. climate change mitigation). This shows the importance for an overall valid definition of future urban mobility planning, so that even more municipalities have the possibility to receive funding.

The term mobility is slowly taking an important role in urban transport planning. Especially topics regarding active transport and electro mobility are gaining importance. Stakeholder participation is additionally gaining importance. For future development it is, however, important to support municipalities both content-wise and financially. Only then it will be possible to have sustainable urban mobility in German municipalities, which include all modes of transport and have a strong focus on participation.

More information about the Online Survey can be found at (in German only). Soon, a report about the Survey will also be available in English via this website.


Photo: Star vector created by Makyzz -

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