The Move on Green project has recently released policy guidelines and recommendations to encourage local, regional, national and European policy makers to develop sustainable mobility in rural and mountainous areas.
As outlined in the guidelines, local mobility has a strong impact on local economy, cultural heritage, territorial cohesion, social inclusion and environmental protection. While good mobility choices can improve quality of life and economic competitiveness, a lack of sustainable mobility schemes will be a barrier to any development strategy implemented in rural and mountainous areas.
For many people living in rural areas, mobility is simply not practical without a car of their own. Even in the relatively densely populated countries of Western Europe, rural areas tend to lack public transport, or services are inadequate to promote independent travel. In Germany, for example, there are around 600 private cars per 1,000 inhabitants in rural areas.
There is thus a need for alternative public transport services to guarantee car-free mobility in rural areas. Innovative schemes such as flexible transport services or transportation on demand may be economically viable solutions that can be effective and efficient while at the same time being environmentally friendly.
The European Commission is encouraging national and regional policy makers to consider the environmental impacts of transport. However, the focus tends to be on major urban centres, while mobility between urban and rural areas and mobility within rural areas are ignored.
Rural and mountainous areas present specific challenges, including large trip distances, scattered populations, a high proportion of elderly people, a high level of poverty in some locations and relative remoteness from the main airports, railways and roads. Geographical characteristics, such as slopes, high altitudes and the high proportion of protected areas, represent another major challenge.
Decision makers from 13 mountainous and rural areas have acknowledged their role in encouraging sustainable mobility in rural areas. They are ready to learn about new solutions and are keen to take action. The Move on Green project aims to provide guidance, share knowledge and encourage policy makers to recognise the importance of rural mobility at all policy levels.