The CIVITAS MIRACLES project, “Multi-Initiative for Rationalised Accessibility and Clean Liveable Environments”, brought together four major European cities: Rome (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Winchester (United Kingdom) and Cork (Ireland).
About the project
The aim was to improve the sustainability and efficiency of urban transport systems by reducing congestion, lowering emissions, and achieving a shift in the modal split towards cleaner fuels and vehicles.
The four participating cities strove to achieve four strategic goals with the support of the MIRACLES project:
- A reduction in transport-related environmental impacts at the local level.
- Increased urban accessibility.
- Enhanced economic efficiency through better transport management.
- An overall improvement in citizens’ quality of life.
To achieve these objectives, the MIRACLES cities designed common policy strategies based on the CIVITAS measures. These measures were implemented in a coordinated manner, making it easier to identify and evaluate the impacts of the individual measures, measure clusters and horizontal integrated packages.
The consortium comprised municipalities and county councils; transport authorities; transport operators (both public and private); universities and research organisations; public relations and press organisations (for dissemination); as well as technology specialists.
Implementing sustainable mobility
City-centre clean zones were created in all four cooperating cities. Access to historical and central areas by private vehicles was limited, and in some cases these areas were totally closed. This move was welcomed by citizens and public transport, and to a large extent also by retailers. Access to clean zones was controlled via the installation of various technologies.
Parking and pricing policies were another focus of the MIRACLES project in Rome and Winchester, where different methods of application were assessed.
Bus fleets were renewed with the procurement of low-emission and zero-emission vehicles such as the latest-generation buses running on compressed natural gas, diesel buses complying with Euro III and Euro IV emissions standards, and electric and bi-modal trolleys. As part of the project innovative fuels were also tested, including plant oils (rapeseed oil).
New public transport lines were introduced on both free and fixed routes, including a new tram line in Barcelona and a trolleybus line in Rome.
Park and ride facilities were extended in Cork and Winchester, integrated with new bicycle parking infrastructure and shuttles to facilitate alternatives to car use in the city and to connect the city centre with the outskirts.
A car-sharing service was implemented in Rome, while new cycling opportunities were introduced in Cork and Winchester, including innovative cycle loan schemes.
Information technology was developed extensively by all four cities, for monitoring the public transport vehicle fleet, providing public transport service information to end users both online and on board; for providing real-time traffic information to drivers; for facilitating payment for transport-related services via SMS (bus tickets in Rome and parking in Cork), and for developing tools to predict traffic-related pollution levels.
Freight delivery was also improved in three of the cities. In Barcelona, a scheme for multi-use lanes was improved and extended (with an extra 5 km of lane). Barcelona also demonstrated other innovations, such as quiet night-time deliveries and a pilot Internet portal.
The latter was developed in collaboration with more than a dozen goods operators in order to identify hotspots and reduce illegal parking. Winchester and Rome were also active in developing innovative urban delivery systems.
Public awareness of the project and of CIVITAS initiatives increased markedly throughout the project lifetime. In Cork, for instance, awareness of the CIVITAS initiative increased from 3 percent to 16 percent, while in Winchester awareness of the CIVITAS and MIRACLES logos increased from 3 percent to 14 percent, and from 3 percent to 20 percent respectively.
Awareness of individual project initiatives varied between measures, but it seems that the more successful promotional events were those with a high visual presence, such as the demonstration days in Winchester (57 percent for Bike Week and 51 percent for Alternative Transport Day).
Likewise, public acceptance of a specific initiative varied according to the measure in question. Generally, people gave a much higher rating to those measures that they perceived as being “of benefit” to them than to the more restrictive measures. In Cork, for example, 80 percent of people rated the widened footpaths on St Patrick’s Street as better than before, and 83 percent rated the overall quality of the park and ride service as good.
In Rome, a key lesson learned was that the more car restrictive a measure is (i.e. the more it limits a person’s freedom to travel), the more effort is required on the part of stakeholders to communicate to the public the potential benefits of implementation. This was considered to require the total revision of the measure implementation process, with an increased need for communication and dissemination at all stages.
Perhaps the most critical factor influencing the success of the measures was a determination to succeed at local level. Many of the measures were dependent on the involvement of a third party, and third parties with a higher level of interest (e.g. the local public transport operators) generally led to greater impacts.
A political willingness to succeed was also crucial. The implementation in Rome, for example, of some measures involving access restrictions, were delayed until political acceptance had been achieved.
September 2002 - March 2006
Collective passenger transport & shared mobility
- Ride sharing
- Car sharing
- Bike sharing
- Service improvements
Clean & energy-efficient vehicles
- Electric vehicles
Smart, Sustainable, Connected and Shared mobility
- Connected and automated transport
- Real-time road-user information
- ITS-based enhancement of public transport
- ITS for traffic
Demand & urban space management
- Access restrictions and management
- Road pricing
- Parking management and pricing