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Sustainable mobility evaluation
Sofia Giannaki, biologist, M.Sc. environmental-spatial planning engineer

At the world summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, sustainable development was declared an international model. Sustainability is understood as a development that satisfies the needs of the present generation without forgetting the well-being of future generations. Within this concept environmental, economic and social aspects should be taken equally into consideration.

Nowhere is the realisation of the concept of sustainable development more pressing than in the cities, with their ecological, social and economic problems. Traffic and transport, due to their negative effects on man and nature, pose a serious challenge in this regard.

Sustainable transport is the ecologically acceptable, economically efficient and socially just meeting of people’s need for mobility. In order to judge the sustainability of transport systems, one is dependent on criteria and indicators. Using 2003 data and prior, Berlin and Greater Athens were judged, using the following criteria and indicators, as to the sustainability of their respective transport systems. The ecological dimension is presented by the criteria of “air-quality” and “noise”, which are the most important problems caused by traffic and transport in cities. As regards air quality, the indicators of air borne pollutants, “benzol”, “smoke”, “nitrogen oxide”, “ozone”, “carbon monoxide”, “particulates”, have been used. The noise criterion is described using the indicator “noise pollution in residential area”. The social aspect is presented by the criterion of “transport safety” and by the indicator of “traffic victims”. Lastly, the economic element of susntainable transport is presented by the criterion of “cost truth” and by the indicator of “external costs”. Under “external costs” are understood: damages from accidents, air pollution, noise, climate change, traffic jams, compensatory measures vis-à-vis nature and landscape, effects of splitting of land areas, land use and proceedings that take place before or after the transport precedure itself.

A comparison of the urban transort systems in Berlin and Athens shows big differences. The city strucure of Berlin is oriented around the well developed rail and metro network. The transport system is marked by a high level of public transport services. The public transport services are provided by, in order of declining service provision, S-Bahn (suburban rail), U-Bahn (metro), bus, tram and ferry, as well as by regional train. Transport via bicycle is encouraged. The Park-and-Ride service is being steadily increased. The rate of car use is set to rise.

The public transport system in Athens provides services mainly through busses and trolleys and to a smaller percentage through city railway and metro because of the short net length. The Athens transport system is marked by over-saturation, delays and parking problems and thus by unreliable public transport systems. The automotorisation rate has not yet reached saturation point and will rise further. In the run-up to the Olympic games in 2004, new metro stations, a regional railway and two tram lines are set to open, combined with Park-and-Ride services. The bus and trolley-bus systems are being modernised, with a large percentage of buses run on natural gas.

The examination of the transport systems of Berlin and Athens with regard to the sustainability, judged using the stated criteria and indicators, showed that both cities are still very far from the goal of sustainable mobility. The sustainability analysis showed that a high or medium need for action exists vis-à-vis all indicators bar carbon dioxide concentrations in the “air quality” criterion, where a lower need for action was found. In nitrogen dioxide and particulates concentrations, as well as in noise pollution in residential area, traffic accident victims and external costs of motorised road transport, a high need for action was found as regards both cities. Overall, Berlin and Athens performed equally well or badly. The only indicators in which Berlin had a medium and Athens a high need for action were ozone and traffic deaths.

On the basis of the four strategies for sustainable mobility (traffic avoidance, repositioning of traffic, traffic flow optimisation, optimisation of transport vehicles, certain measures are proposed, with fiscal, technical, administrative and land planning recommendations, for to each of the fields studied.

These should help not only Berlin and Athens, but also cities in general, to draw closer to the goal of a sustainable meeting of people’s need for mobility.

caretta6@gmail.com

28/12/2011
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