© Broaddus, GIZ Urban Transport Photo DVD, 2010.

Sustainable urban transport

Nearly 75% of cities have direct control over their transit system, and 80% have control over roads [1]. Transport poses a major challenge to cities worldwide. This Package is composed of a group of key complementary Solutions which Local Governments can implement to increase the sustainability of urban transport and mobility within their territory. These Solutions can be implemented in tandem to generate synergies and maximize the benefits.  For example, solutions on public transportation can be implemented in tandem with solution on non-motorised transport or with travel demand management or transit oriented development to yield larger benefits and have higher success in discouraging the use of personal automobiles.

While there is no universal definition of sustainable mobility, several can be quoted to illustrate: "The ability to meet society`s desires and needs to move freely, gain access, communicate, trade and establish relationships without sacrificing other essential human or ecological values, today or in the future." (WBCSD) [2]. The Ecomobility Alliance defines ecomobility as "EcoMobility is the integration of various transport options, policies, and technologies in a city, to provide accessible, smart, safe, innovative, and affordable transport to all the users" [3].

Motivation / Relevance

Transport poses a major challenge to cities worldwide, particularly to those experiencing rapid population growth and growing motorization rate. Overall demand for transport activity (for both passenger and freight) is predicted to double between 2005 and 2050 (IEA 2009b) [4].

While transport systems are absolutely necessary to the economy and to give citizens access to jobs, goods, and services such as health and education, they can also generate significant negative impacts, particularly due to road traffic and congestion. Such negative impacts include [4]:

  • - high consumption of fossil fuels and depletion of natural resources. Transport consumes more than half of global liquid fossil fuels (IEA 2008) and it is expected to account for 97% of the increase in the world`s primary oil use between 2007 and 2030.

  • - decrease in the cities` GDP. In some cases traffic externalities (congestion, accident and pollution) amount to over 10% of national, regional and local GDP.

  • air pollution (through an increase of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, metals, particulate matter, etc.), and noise.

  • - increased health risks (including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases) and traffic accidents - every year more than 1.27 million people die in road accidents, of which 91% occur in low and middle income countries.

  • - diminished access and communities severance.

  • - high greenhouse gas emissions The transport sector`s consumption of fossil fuels translates into around a quarter of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions

  • - biodiversity loss, particularly due to loss and fragmentation of habitat.

Main impacts

  • Reduction of fossil fuel consumption
  • Contribution to social equity (improve access to work, services, health, education, etc.)
  • Higher environmental quality (air, noise, vibration)
  • Reduced health risks and decrease in fatalities due to traffic
  • Economic development though job creation, time savings from reduced congestion, and less reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Climate change mitigation potential

Benefits and Co-Benefits

  • Decreased modal share of private vehicles
  • Increased modal share of public transport
  • Increased modal share of non-motorized means of transport, including walking
  • Decreased greenhouse gas emissions
  • Improved liveability in cities due to positive impacts on urban planning


Low hanging fruit
  • Urban Transport Performance Measurement

    This Solution provides a process for local governments to Measure, Monitor, and Verify the performance of the urban transport systems (excluding freight), including walking, cycling, public transport, and personal automobiles, in their territory. Measuring the performance of existing urban transport systems enables policy-makers to identify the gaps and the areas requiring further development to deliver sustainable mobility in cities. Learn More...

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  • Street lighting retrofit with LED and financing the action

    Switching to an efficient street lighting system helps to ensure the safety and security of drivers and pedestrians, can reduce lighting pollution and energy costs substantially. The use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) and LED street lighting is one of the most energy-efficient and cost effective options in a climate action plan, helping local governments to achieve climate and energy targets by retrofitting existing street lighting systems or expanding the system to new areas. Financing this is often a challenge for cash-strapped local governments that own or manage the infrastructure and related assets. This solution provides guidance on all stages of implementation of LED street lighting projects, addressing key aspects that municipalities need to consider and assess. The solution focuses on financing, presenting a range of models that have been implemented in cities worldwide, with recommendations on where these could be applied and the general limitations of each model.. (Forthcoming)

  • Transit-oriented Development (TOD)

    Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is urban development that relies on public transport, while maintaining a closely knitted urban fabric through high-density, mixed land use and human-scale design, within walking distance from transit stations. Key features of TOD include: high-quality public spaces which are sensitive to community needs; variety of housing types and prices, frequent reliable, fast and comfortable transit; and measures discouraging the use of private cars. TOD can create socially vibrant communities, contribute to economic development and sustainable mobility, and enhance environmental quality. Learn More...


Additional Information