Budapest wins European Mobility Week Award 2008

The Hungarian capital was judged by an independent panel of experts to have done the most to raise public awareness of air pollution from traffic and promote cleaner alternatives during European Mobility Week  Almada in Portugal and Zagreb, the Croatian capital, were runners-up among a group of ten european cities.

At a ceremony in Brussels, presented by the Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik, Budapest has won the European Mobility Week Award 2008. Some 2102 towns and cities around Europe and beyond with a combined population of 218 million people took part in European Mobility Week (EMW) 2008, whose theme was 'Clean air for all.'

The EMW award rewards the local authority that is deemed to have done most in raising public awareness of sustainable mobility issues and implementing projects to achieve a shift towards sustainable urban transport. Sixty-six local authorities applied for the award and 10 were shortlisted  by the panel of experts.

Commissioner Dimas said: "European Mobility Week is making a tangible contribution to tackling the air pollution, traffic congestion and noise from private transport that afflict our towns and cities. Participation in last year's Mobility Week was higher than ever and I believe this reflects a real desire of local authorities to improve the quality of life of their residents. I would like to congratulate Budapest on winning the award against very strong competition from Almada and Zagreb".

Winning entry: Budapest

The city and districts of Budapest – dedicated participants since EMW started in 2001 –  developed a whole range of events and activities to promote sustainable urban transport, with a major contribution from local artists and organisations. The activities included two consecutive car-free days, a “Clever Commuting Race” for VIPs to demonstrate the efficiency of public transport, an open-air exhibition of clean and energy-efficient vehicles, a conference on air quality and noise mapping and a “Pedestranised Areas Day”, promoting the pleasures of walking in the historical city centre along the banks of the Danube.

The Hungarian capital introduced and promoted several permanent measures to demonstrate its commitment to sustainable transport, such as expanding the downtown pedestrian area, increasing parking fees in the city centre, improving metro and tram infrastructure and services, and introducing new bicycle lanes and 'park and ride' facilities. Budapest also closed its ring road during EMW, reducing transit traffic in the city by around one-quarter.

Runners-up: Almada and Zagreb

Almada used the opportunity of EMW 2008 to pedestrianise its historical centre, launch three light rail lines reallocate road space in favour of sustainable transport modes and introduce new bus shelters. In cooperation with the university, the city launched a permanent air quality monitoring system. Events organised included a “Public Transport Day” with live music, free coffee and presents for passengers, a “Commute By Bike Day”, a “Mobility Management Day” and a “Local Shopping Day”. For the car-free day on 22 September the university area was closed to motorised traffic and a series of awareness-raising activities aimed at students and school children organised.

Zagreb introduced new trams and buses, improved public transport services and extended infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. It also increased parking fees, introduced parking limitations and permanently reduced car traffic in the upper part of the city. A major public debate on air qualilty was held and a “public transport day” was organised to promote the benefits of public transport and to make car-users aware of the priority of trams and buses on the dedicated lanes. 

On car-free day 6 km of streets were turned into pedestrian zones and a huge bicycle ride was held through the city centre, together with public discussions, lectures, sports events and exhibitions. 

European Mobility Week (EMW) 2009 will be held from 16 to 22 September and will focus on urban transport's contribution to climate change.