Glasgow City Council’s European Mobility Week programme has been declared “Best in the United Kingdom” (details). The Council organised a week of events with cycling and walking figuring in many of them. The aim was to raise the general awareness of the links between transport and climate change. This “helped individuals to make an informed decision about their personal transport choices”.
A ‘Commuter Challenge’ for Councillors and Council staff was organised in the morning peak hours, “in order to illustrate and compare the implications of different transport modes for climate change”. Edinburgh held a similar event, but this has almost the only EMW activity in the city last year.
European Mobility Week is held in over 1300 towns and cities (56 in the UK). Edinburgh’s involvement in EMW has been variable over the years. One element of EMW is “In town, without my car!” – often called Car Free Day – this is always on 22nd of September. In 2002 this was a Sunday and the Council organised a successful event in George Street. This was repeated in 2003 – though on Sunday again not the 22nd.
In 2004 money was given to Lothian Buses to run free buses on the September Holiday Monday and interesting stalls were set up in the City Chambers Quadrangle, though the weather wasn’t kind! The 2005 theme was Clever Commuting and Edinburgh produced a range of events and promotional activities good enough for it be awarded the “Best in the United Kingdom” title.
Councillors and officials in Edinburgh have always been wary of being branded “anti-car”, so the idea of a Car Free Day road closure has always been ‘difficult’. This year’s EMW theme is “Streets for People” so there is a lot of scope for concentrating on how people use ‘public space’. It’s not just about walking, cycling and Public Transport use. Streets are more than just conduits for travellers. Edinburgh with its many festivals knows that.
One problem with the idea of European Mobility Week, is the word mobility, which in the UK seems to be associated with the word “problem”! Planning has already begun for this year’s EMW (it’s always 16-22 September), but it won’t just be a single week of activities. Work with schools (for instance) will highlight the issues throughout the year.
If you are thinking of running an event that could fit the “Streets for People” theme – or just want more information – contact the organisers.