Mobility Week: Europe in search of clean air

Initiatives to promote cycling, walking, public transport and car-pooling in cities are at the centre of this year’s European Mobility Week from 16 to 22 September.

With roughly 80% of the Europeans living in cities, urban mobility is a chief concern for local authorities. But the EU and national levels also have an important role to play, the UK Presidency points out, for example by setting air pollution standards on vehicles or promoting cleaner transport. 

Statistics cited by the UK Presidency point to 300,000 people dying prematurely each year from air pollution related diseases and reducing average life expectancy by nine months. Respiratory problems such as asthma, especially in children, are estimated to cost Europe “at least half a day of work a year” or 80 billion euros.

Nine themes have been selected around “clever commuting” to promote trips to workplace and schools using alternative modes of transport (cycling, walking, public transport, car-pooling, etc.). 

But the already (in)famous International Car Free day – planned across Europe on 22 September – does not seem to convince everybody. French Environment minister Nelly Olin described it as “a little unrealistic” and scrapped it from the national programme. 

According to the official website, 729 cities are taking part in the European Mobility Week, 1,236 in the International Car Free day, totalling 117,407,481 inhabitants.

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