Improving the quality of SUMPs in the Czech environment requires having knowledge of problems that can appear during the process and being able to hold an open debate. That's why we have combined present state analysis from European projects SUMPs-Up and PROSPERITY, but you can also find links to practical experience in the CR. To illustrate how intense the problem is, here is a translated comment from a public discussion on a SUMP:
I wonder how to confront the publicly presented SUMP. I am not able to assess it from an expert perspective because it's a complicated mathematical model. Perhaps, the EU guidelines or even the Czech ones require this. Does it mean that citizens cannot understand it? Is it intentional? I am trying to examine some SUMP details which I doubt about, just simply using my brain:4. I asked the processor about a statistical error - can we believe the percentages when the differences between them make not units percent, but only tenths of a percent …? He responded that it was a mathematical model which may not be accurate.5. During the Steering Group meeting, the processor presented in my opinion misleading modal splits from German cities (modal splits from Danish and Dutch cities were not presented), where the modal share of cycling was very similar to modal shares in our city. According to what I've found out, Dresden and Leipzig are reaching 20 %.6. It's hard to understand the (in my opinion) intentionally suppressive approach to urban cycling development - although the measures proposed include building infrastructure for cyclists for almost a billion crowns, the planned increase of cycle modal share is negligible (1.7%). However, the potential of our city is much bigger, for 76% of all journeys is less than 3km and 60% than 2km.
1. The range of suggestions reminded me of a large bazaar with many items (500 suggestions, 149 measures selected)
2. The measures were sent for an assessment according to a quite complex methodology to only 47 so-called experts - and only 18 have responded, incl. me (since I am not an expert and didn't understand many things, the forms were completed only partially). I wonder who the other "experts" were - the whole SUMP draft was based on their outputs…
3. Although every measure has certain number of points allocated, somebody has made another assessment and for example the measure "extension of a traffic refuge at a tram stop in transition hubs" with 12.5 points was incorporated in the SUMP draft, while "tram stabling" with 22 points was excluded, although this is a measure that has to be addressed for solving the maximum capacity use of public transport. In fact, the draft also includes the "water corridor Danube-Odra-Elbe" with 5 points...the computer surely got overheated...
Comments of a citizen to public debate
BARRIERS OF SUMPS IN CZECH CONTEXT
We gathered quite a lot of feedback from Czech Cities who carried out SUMPs.
Sustainable urban mobility planning can be characterized as follows:
- More a Western European philosophy, not fully corresponding with the Czech environment (which often shows weaknesses like a lack of a long-term investment monitoring and evaluation, of social responsibility, of understanding the benefits of all modes of transport).
- Its aim is to trigger a modal change, which unfortunately is in contradiction with the Czech interpretation of SUMPs, according to which SUMPs should serve to implement general transport plans or cause a switch to electric vehicles.
- In the CR, the SUMP is primarily focused on infrastructure projects (i.e. is technocratic) and underrates the importance of soft tools (incl. communication skills necessary to explain required changes in a positive way that is acceptable for citizens).
- The Czech understanding of "udržitelný", the Czech word for the English term "sustainable", does not fully grasp the original meaning; in the Czech environment, the three pillars - economic, social and environmental - stand against each other, while should be combined in a single unit.
Other great shortages:
- The Czech cities proceed with unnecessary caution when it comes to setting a specific vision for reducing car use (see comparison with Vienna)
- In the Czech context, an urban mobility plan is more a general transport plan than a strategic document (see comparison with Vienna)
- We fail in public participation (see comparison with Ljubljana)
- As for an interdisciplinary approach, it only slightly touches the planning process, and more theoretically, because the current plans are primarily dealing with transport infrastructure issues (see comparison with Happy Danes)
- In practice, we can see only a few policymakers striving for changes and willing to view the future beyond their own term of office; unfortunately, their power and arguments are not strong enough to convince more local and regional politicians;
- Local politics often emphasizes the issue of car parking and the need of increasing the number of places, which is in contrary to SUMP general objectives.
On the other hand, we are not afraid of showing off the strengths that can be found in the Czech towns and cities. However, many challenges and lots of work lies ahead of the Czech municipalities in cooperation with public administration and the research sector. Special attention must be paid to urban planning in connection with different size categories of considered municipalities.
Understanding the Czech context. This is a written query received after a public debate on a SUMP.
BARRIERS OF SUMPS IN EUROPEAN CONTEXT
What are the barriers to develop a SUMP in European context?
Cross-administration cooperation at all levels (city, regional, national level);
- Lack of national support and adequate regulatory framework;
- Political will;
- Capacity to prioritise implementation of measures in coherency with the SUMPconcept with available resources (which are often limited);
- Lack of data and poor culture of evaluation and monitoring activities.Additionally, structured interviews with national level representatives identified the following most difficult aspects of encouraging SUMPs from a national perspective:
- Lack of SUMP activities and awareness at national level and lack of cooperation between relevant national institutions.
- Lack of interest and awareness about SUMP concept among politicians at all levels.
- Lack of national framework.
- Lack of professional support including guidelines, trainings, quality control and professionals with required competences in SUMPs and SUM planning.
- Lack of sustained funding for sustainable mobility on the national, regional and local level for SUMP development and implementation of SUMP measures.
- Strong traditional transport planning approaches focused on infrastructure and motorised traffic which results in other transport related measures being prioritized over SUMP measures.
- In several countries EU projects are the only facilitator for SUMP activities.
- Benefit of SUMP is often hidden behind the necessity of having it for the EU funding.
The results of the analysis which has been carried out in a joint way with the sister project CIVITAS-PROSPERITY is now available as report at the PROSPERITY Deliverable on High Level of Government - their support for SUMP in the EU.
There is a gap between the needs and demands of cities that should develop and implement SUMPs, and the higher administrative institutions who prepare the ground and provide programmes to encourage cities to develop and implement SUMPs.
The aim of CIVITAS-PROSPERITY is to close the gap and develop national SUMP support programmes in all participating countries. These support programmes should be tailor made for the needs of cities and help them in real ways, including, but not limited to; knowledge building and sharing, financial and institutional support, standardisation and evaluation criteria. The main concept of the project is to activate the national and/or regional level to develop policy frameworks that will improve or start up National programmes.
To prepare the development or improvement of National programmes, PROSPERITY started with an analysis of the current status of national or regional support programmes in EU member states. The analysis aimed to identify and assess:
- the status of National programmes in EU member states;
- successful existing National programmes and their key contents;
- key problems hindering SUM-planning in cities, regions and countries;
- needs of national level representatives in developing and improving National programmes