Group 3: Spatial planning and accessibility
Are spatial planning and transport planning becoming better coordinated so as to match transport demand to access need?
trend (moving towards objective)
Group policy context
Enabling people to gain access to work, education, shopping or leisure is an essential component of economic and social development. Providing accessibility for everyone, at low cost to the environment, should therefore be the key objective of any transport policy. However, increasing mobility does not necessarily improve accessibility. For example, more car use in and around cities increases congestion, which can reduce access to the city centre.
Accessibility is governed by many factors. Spatial (land-use) planning (i.e. urban and regional planning) and transport planning (both public and private) can influence the time and distances that people spend travelling and that goods have to be transported, and also the transport modes that are used. A better integration of spatial and transport planning is therefore a key to achieving better accessibility and to manage the need for travel. At the urban planning level, this can be achieved by, for instance, a better spatial mix of economic activities backed by improvements in public transport, cycling and walking facilities, and by restrictions on parking. In this way improved accessibility can be achieved while reducing the demand for energy-consuming mobility. The need to provide accessibility by conventional transport means may be progressively reduced by developments in telecommunications and e-commerce which provide other important ways of accessing services.
Community transport policies have, so far, tried to increase mobility mainly by increasing transport infrastructure and services supply. Interestingly, the Common Transport Policy is subtitled . towards sustainable mobility. rather than . towards sustainable accessibility. . Spatial planning has received much less attention from transport policy-makers and planners in recent decades. No integrated accessibility strategies have been developed, nor are any targets set in this area.
One reason for this deficiency may be that the responsibility for developing such strategies lies not with the EU but with Member States, regions and authorities. The Community. s role is therefore limited to promoting good practice (e.g. the sustainable cities. campaign, car-free cities, the Citizens. Network campaign, the Urban Exchange Initiative), and developing EIA and SEA legislation so that the issue of accessibility and transport generation are addressed adequately in land-use and other spatial plans. Another important framework is the action plan of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP, (CEC, 1999)), which can help to strengthen the link between spatial policy and transport policy.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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