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Mobility & Transport

Transportation in Europe contributes to over 30% of the total energy consumption in EU-25 and it exceeds the whole industrial energy consumption. Private conventional mobility is far beyond the largest energy consumer in urban transportation and to make things even worse, despite congestions and cost of ownership, the number of private passenger cars is still growing in the EU, while other vehicle shares per inhabitants are declining. Encouraging people to embrace sustainable transport modes and new transport technologies requires not only a change in individual behavioral patterns, but also a change in the way urban areas are planned. Therefore, strategies targeting transport issues should use an integrated approach, which addresses behavior, technical aspects and urban planning.

What actions can increase energy efficiency connected to mobility and transport? How should you communicate? Read about what to consider when choosing actions to increase energy efficiency below.




In this sector, the most impacting technologies are the strong hybridization of different means of transport which could lead up to 40% fuel consumption gains. However, additional strategies, such as increasing walking paths for pedestrians, would increase walking among citizens and help reduce the extensive use of private transportation. Although walking should not be considered a technology itself, its use and development must be considered as a contributor to urban and environmental efficiency, but also to wellbeing and health.



For cycling, cities should not focus on the technology itself, but on the infrastructure, from increasing the city coverage of bike paths to new services like shared cycle services. As walking, cycling should be considered as a highly efficient non-emitting transportation mean, and unlike walking, in most medium-sized cities in Europe, cycling represents a major substitution mean to short private car trips. While cycling growth reduces the use of private and public conventional transportation, urban integration at infrastructure and regulation level is actually the major challenge to allow cycling higher acceptation and incitation.


Public transport

When it comes to public transportation, urban buses are the most flexible public transportation mean: wide range of models available, relative lower cost than other means, no heavy infrastructure required, high sinuosity (a key aspect for urban transportation), line flexibility and unrivalled urban coverage capacity. The main drawbacks are their dependence to traffic (depending on their infrastructure), relative low speed and their relative energy efficiency versus other public transportation means.


Private transport

A good hybrid approach is the extensive use of carpooling and car sharing. In this way, the best of both worlds (flexibility from private transport and efficiency from public transport) could be addressed. Multiple projects all around Europe are implementing this, with high success rates. When addressing transportation energy efficiency, the emission aspects must also be formally assessed. This point is especially critical when considering the development of electro-mobility, where the electric energy mix and energy production have to be considered in order to evaluate the real efficiency and emissions footprint of electric vehicles. The wide dispersion of the countries’ energy mixes makes that the well-to-wheel analysis must be performed for electric transportation means when the electricity energy mix includes fossil fuel share above 40%.

For more technologies to improve energy efficiency please read PLEEC WP3 Technical State of the art innovative solutions (D3.1) and WP3 Improving energy efficiency through technology – Case studies (D3.2).

Contact: Erik Dahlquist, Technical University of Mälardalen, Sweden


Transport is closely related to spatial structure, part of the pervious key field, as a main argument of compact cities is the reduction of energy use (especially fossil fuels) for transportation. Compact cities can reduce the average travel distance by supporting mixed used development in neighbourhoods and allow a more sustainable modal split, favouring “green” modes of transport. In the PLEEC WP4 Thematic Report on urban energy planning (D4.3) we review the how planning can support energy efficient transport (Chapter 4). However, a main problem is the difficulty of comparing across different contexts and bounding conditions, which the six PLEEC cities illustrate very well.

Complex city structure in Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent, which actually consists of 6 towns, the concentration of functions and activities in one of the towns is seen critical from a transport point of view, as this might create new transport needs, which were covered locally before (see case study report D4.2 on Stoke-on-Trent). Also, a polycentric structure like in Stoke-on-Trent poses different challenges to a public transport system, then a monocentric structure as e.g. in Jyväskylä.

Contact: Christian Fertner, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Furthermore, small and medium-sized cities can hardly deploy high class urban public transport systems as e.g. a metro line. On the other hand, many of these cities are of a size which makes it possible reach most places by bike. Still, increasing functional relations of cities especially in regards to commuting (but increasingly also regarding recreational travel) makes it necessary to look at the transport system as a whole and connect different transport modes as several of the cities do by developing e.g. intermodal transport centres. The PLEEC WP4 Summary Report (D4.4) outlines spatial planning measures and summarizes the efforts in the six cities.


The EU has set ambitious targets to reduce overall CO2 emissions by 2050. Reduction potential is seen especially in urban areas, where emphasis should be based on mixed strategies supporting both smart solutions and sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling, collective transport and public transport. Efforts should especially focus on transport infrastructure and land-use planning, both of which should encourage sustainable transport.

Promoting the bicycles in Stoke-on-Trent

The cycling strategy of Stoke-on-Trent consists of various measures including promotional work, infrastructure improvements and development of the city’s cycling network. The strategy has been integrated to other city strategies and to new development projects including new road schemes, traffic management and traffic calming schemes. The promotion of the strategy was targeted to all citizens.

Research indicates that in relation to transport and mobility in the city context, people seem to respond to interventions which utilize or underline:
  • financial incentives,
  • social pressure,
  • easy, funny and creative solutions,
  • practical and timely information and guidance,
  • safety and health.
According to other findings made by the PLEEC project, cities and city planners should:


make public transport the norm or otherwise a viable option. This could be done by:

  • integrating sustainable public transport into new plans
  • integrating sustainable public transport into existing plans where possible

utilize social pressure

  • lead by example, i.e. make city efforts in energy efficiency transport public and easily available
  • use well-known persons or opinion leaders as figureheads for energy efficient transport
  • use playful competitions and create teams of people striving for energy efficiency in transport together

emphasize financial benefits of sustainable transport

  • create a business case for sustainable transport, i.e. emphasize what cities can gain from switching to energy efficient / sustainable transport modes
  • show how cities can save both money and the environment by promoting energy efficient transport (e.g. economical driving styles)

emphasize the health benefits of pedestrian traffic and cycling

  • healthier modes of travel can save money in the long run by making people healthier

optimize city logistics

  • cities can save a lot by optimizing the logistics of city services (e.g. transport of goods between different city buildings, food transports etc.)

For more information about the case studies and about the importance of behavioral aspects in energy efficiency work see PLEEC WP5 Case Study reports (D5.1) and WP5 Final report (D5.5).

Contact: Annika Kunnasvirta, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland