Umeå with 125 000 inhabitants is the center of growth in northern Sweden, doubling its population over the last 50 years and making it one of Europe’s fastest growing cities in an otherwise sparsely populated region. Umeå is a university city with a young population and a creative city that was elected European Capital of Culture 2014.
Umeå’s strategic long-term objective states that Umeå’s growth is reached with social, cultural, ecological and economic sustainability, aiming towards 200,000 citizens in 2050. Thus, sustainable growth is both the challenge and the opportunity for Umeå.
Umeå adopted a new comprehensive plan with an integrated Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) in 2011. The plan is focused on strategies for sustainable growth, aiming at building a denser, more land-use and transport efficient city, with high quality parks and public places, and recognizing that openness, democracy and equality should be part of all planning processes in a sustainable city.
The SUMP states that the majority of urban growth should be within 5 km from the central parts of the city, and along public transport main lines. By developing the city in accordance with these strategies, it will be easier to get around by foot, bicycle or public transport. This means car traffic can be reduced, enabling a transformation of old traffic arteries into city streets with priority for sustainable transport and urban development.
At the moment Umeå demonstrates a modal split of 50 percent car, 7 percent public transport, 27 percent cycling and 15 percent pedestrians. Umeå is active in several local, regional and international projects in the field of sustainable urban mobility and is actively implementing measures to enhance sustainable transport modes on every level.
Umeå is aiming to be at the forefront of smart technological solutions and have for example been a pioneer in electric buses. In 2019 70 percent of all buses in Umeå will be fully-electric. The university campus area is a pilot area for smart city solutions and in the coming years the old highways close to the city center will be rebuilt into city streets with priority for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transport. The city of Umeå is also working with mobility management and ride sharing to encourage more sustainable urban transport. For example this includes U-bike, a bike sharing system for electric cargo bikes.
The city of Umeå also has a long history of working with gender equality, public participation and social sustainability in urban planning and mobility planning. In recent years a lot of effort have been put into incorporating a gendered landscape approach into the planning of public transport nodes such as the city’s railway stations and the central public transport hub, Vasaplan.