Holistic, shared and persistent mobility plan

A defining feature of this social innovation is the participatory development and adoption of a holistic and persistent mobility plan, in which all city development and planning follows a coordinated approach focussed on making the city mobility efficient and sustainable.


Reference cases analysed within the scope of SMARTEES: Zurich (Switzerland) and Groningen (the Netherlands).

Zurich, Switzerland

The history of the Zurich mobility plan dates back to the 1970s. In two referendums, the population voted for strengthening local public transport (trams and buses) and against the construction of an underground system. Since then, the city government has been engaged in the progressive realisation of a mobility plan that aims at prioritising public transport, restricting private traffic (e.g. freezing the number of parking spaces), improving the suburban public transport and its integration with the city, strengthening pedestrian/bike mobility, adopting related marketing strategies, and strengthening mobility culture.

The plan has been serving as a tool to coordinate a large number of actors working towards common goals. These actors are different bodies of the city government (primarily different departments), other institutional actors (e.g. the canton of Zurich) and stakeholders such as local businesses, car-users and cyclists. The plan takes a persistent and pragmatic approach, i.e. consistently implementing small changes. It was developed taking into account ongoing changes, such as the city’s population growth, and is continuously adjusted following public consultations, in particular referendums. The achieved results are a considerable reduction in car usage, citywide low-speed zones in residential areas, a demand-oriented public transport system, and the improvement of the citizens’ quality of life (air quality, noise reduction and safety).

Groningen, the Netherlands

For the past sixty years, the local government in Groningen has been actively prioritising cyclists and pedestrians in the city traffic. From this long history, four systemic tipping points – events that have had a defining impact on the transportation choices of citizens – were identified.

Implementation of the Traffic Circulation Plan in 1977 marked the start of the transitional process in the traffic system in Groningen. The determination of the city’s Mayor, Jacques Wallage, and the King's Commissioner1,  Max van den Berg, allowed for restricting car traffic in the city centre and creating space for cyclists and pedestrians.

The other three tipping points built upon the favourable conditions fostered by the implementation of the Traffic Circulation Plan. They are the closing down of the Noorderplantsoen city park for cars in 1994, the promotion of city-campus biking routes, and the development of a cyclist-prioritising roundabout in 2017-2018.

Due to consistent public policies stimulating sustainable transport, at least 60% of all traffic movements within the city are currently made by bikes. As a result, citizens enjoy healthier lives, cleaner air, and lower noise pollution. While over 75% of the city panel respondents are satisfied with Groningen’s cycling strategy, the city aims to implement ambitious projects in the next decade to further improve the situation.


Head of province


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 763912. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the SMARTEES project. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of the European Union.