1. Mobility is an expression of freedom and an integral part of modern society. Mobility is part of our culture. Culture may be defined as the ideas, beliefs and customs that society shares.
2. However, increasing traffic - especially that resulting from over-dependence upon private cars - endangers the built and cultural heritage of the European city and limits both freedom of mobility and the quality of urban life:
The economic and social well-being of cities is seriously threatened by congestion, pollution and noise.
Major traffic routes cause neighbourhood severance, reducing the freedom of residents to move around our cities. Such routes also reduce our willingness to walk and cycle and encourage people to make more and more journeys by private car.
Freight is increasingly transported by heavy good vehicles within and between cities. Cities face many problems associated with the fast growth of heavy traffic.
Cities must confront the growing conflict between the demands of road traffic and the human right to health. Health is increasingly jeopardised by pollution and the risk of death and injury in road traffic accidents.
Access to many low density suburban areas is currently perceived to be cheaper and faster by car than by public transport, and the proportion of trips made by car in suburban areas is higher than in central cities
Transport is an increasingly important energy consumer and responsible for the production of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The European Union has agreed to stabilise CO2 emission level to 1990 levels by 2000.
Furthermore, within the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), and particularly within the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin mandate, discussions are being held in order to define the policies and measures to reduce and/or limit green house gases, in particular CO2 emissions beyond the year 2000.
Increased car- dependency associated with new patterns of urban development, the closure of local services, changing life styles and deteriorating public transport contributes to the social and economic exclusion of citizens who do not have the use of a car
3. It is important that we reach a consensus on the steps necessary to avert the predicted growth in road traffic. Without such a consensus, accessibility within our cities cannot be guaranteed, because congestion due to cars will continue to increase.
We must provide incentives which improve the attractiveness of environmentally friendly means of transport whilst restraining the use of cars and heavy good vehicles in cities, thus promoting a better quality of urban life.
Solutions to the problems we face are not only to be found in technical developments. Changes in the economics of transport, and ultimately social and cultural change, are also required.
At present the car is almost always given priority over pedestrians and cyclists, whose routes and paths are determined by the desire to minimise motorised vehicle travel time. The car is treated as more than a form of transport, with a status additional to the travel opportunities it provides. We need to encourage lifestyles which are less dependent upon cars.
4. The undersigning cities have agreed that the following strategies need to be implemented through the co-operative efforts of all relevant actors and levels of government:
We must encourage land use patterns which reduce the need for motorised travel and minimise the amount of public space allocated to cars. In particular, we must discourage the further development of extensive, low-density urban forms. The European city offers the possibility of a modern urban lifestyle with fewer cars and more open space for ecological and public use.
Cities should ensure the provision of a range of efficient, reliable and well-publicised mobility services which together offer citizens a real alternative to private cars. Such services include, for example, public transport, StattAuto and other kinds of car-sharing, improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians and home delivery services.
By reducing road congestion and the number of vehicles parked in central locations, public and shared transport, cycling and walking can offer both more efficient use of land and savings of time and money.
Change requires consensus amongst the citizens, and this in turn requires enhanced community participation as cities develop their approaches to sustainable mobility. We must all become more sensitive to the impacts of traffic. The rights of children, other vulnerable road users and all residents near arterial roads should be emphasised in the dialogue between local authorities, their citizens and all other stakeholder.
The price of motorised personal and freight transport should include all external costs. The definition of external costs must be broadened to include all environmental impacts such as land take, air pollution and noise. The environmentally friendly means of transport will thus become more attractive in comparison to the car and lorry under market conditions.
Business and commerce must play their part in shifting transport to environmentally friendly modes and, in the longer term, in developing structures of production and distribution which will reduce transport demand.
Traffic problems cannot be solved by the cities alone, nor by the regions. We must achieve a consistent approach at all levels of government, as well as integration between sectors within each governmental tier. Tackling traffic problems must be a high political and economic priority for national governments. National governments must provide frameworks within which cities can act.
5. The Car Free Cities network welcomes the increasing focus on urban mobility and accessibility problems at European level. In particular we welcome the Green Paper on the Citizensí Network and the Green Paper on the Internalisation of External Costs.
The European institutions have an important role in regulation, setting policy frameworks, encouraging the exchange of good practice and providing financial support for environmentally friendly transport and technological innovation. By these means the EU institutions can support the cities and their citizens as they strive for better urban quality.
The Car Free Cities network is an important tool for promoting the goals of environmentally friendly and socially oriented mobility. We call for:
the exchange of experience and the co-operation of cities in projects which can demonstrate strategies for reducing dependence upon environmentally-damaging motorised transport.
cities to co-operate with EU-institutions. Cities are centres of innovation and partners in implementing European, national and regional initiatives. They play a key role in ensuring that obligations under international agreements are met.
the involvement of elected representatives at all levels of government in the activities of the network.
7. We must move towards a society respecting environmental limits. All decision-makers at the local, regional, national and European levels are urged to play their part in changing our culture of mobility!