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CIVITAS cities drive towards electro-mobility

Author: Lewis Macdonald
Posted on: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 10:22

The cities of Aachen and Bielefeld (Germany) are pushing ahead with the development of electro-mobility, in line with the EU’s aim to phase out conventionally-fuelled cars in Europe’s cities by 2050.

On 25 October, the first passengers will test out Aachen’s retrofitted electric buses, and the city’s new electric bike-sharing programme will be officially inaugurated as part of a week of celebrations titled ‘Aachen goes Electro!’

Meanwhile in Bielefeld, the city has partnered with local energy provider Stadtwerke Bielefeld since 2011 to develop charging stations across 12 districts and towns in the city’s urban area. “We have begun to invest in the necessary infrastructure for the widespread use of electric bikes and cars,” said Mr Olaf Lewald, Bielefeld’s EU contact.

The European Commission’s Urban Mobility Package (UMP), which was released at the beginning of 2014, is one tool that cities can use to support their electro-mobility and other sustainable mobility efforts. Aachen expressed its support for the UMP through a CIVITAS DYN@MO note with other CIVITAS cities, who recognise that the UMP is very relevant to their work in developing a sustainable mobility future. Particular areas of interest for Aachen are measures to institutionalise sustainable mobility planning principles and increase the focus on alternative fuels and technologies.

An important point that cities engaging in electro-mobility should be aware of is that it is not a topic that can be addressed from a single perspective. From Aachen’s experience, it is important to involve many stakeholders – even those that aren’t immediately obvious.

“Of course it is necessary to include public transport operators and utilities companies in any discussions around electro-mobility,” Dr Georg Werdermann from the City of Aachen commented. “However, organisations such as local housing authorities, parking operators, retailers and universities or research institutes can make valuable partners and stakeholders. It is also crucial to think of electro-mobility as more than just electric cars, as it can also be applied to public transportation, cycling, and urban freight.”

Both cities are also part of the German-speaking CIVINET, which is a network of cities that promote the CIVITAS approach at a local level, overcoming language and contextual barriers for local authorities and organisations interested in urban sustainable mobility. It is clear that involvement in CIVITAS and the German-speaking CIVINET is part of a long-term strategy for both Aachen and Bielefeld. “Membership of the CIVINET allows us to learn from others and exchange ideas regarding strategies on ambitious projects and clean and sustainable urban mobility. The national networks work together in their own language and within the same legal framework, which is a great advantage,” said Mr Lewald.

Aachen and Bielefeld’s electro-mobility ambitions are propelled through opportunities to trial innovative solutions, exchange with peers, and take part in Europe-wide projects. The two cities are not only committing to the transition within their own urban areas; through their participation in the CIVINET, experiences and knowledge are shared to make sustainable mobility a reality for all.

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