The Baltic Sea Region Mobility Summit 2020 – INTERREG cooperation at its best!

­The very first Baltic Sea Region Mobility Summit was organised 8-10 September 2020, of course online. The event was the result of a joint effort from the Interreg BSR projects cities.multimodal, SUMBA and BSR electric. As the event was initially supposed to be organised in Riga, the core organisation team was based there, moderating and technically supporting the event from a set-up studio.

The event was opened with a keynote speech from Rebecca Karbaumer from the City of Bremen, who encouraged also other cities to be bold – and also a little bit provocative in their actions - to test and pilot sustainable mobility measures.  Afterwards the floor, or in this case the screen, was given to the three projects organizing the Summit. cities.multimodal was introduced by lead partner Steffen Nozon from the City of Rostock and Esther Kreutz from the UBC Sustainable Cities Commission.

In the subsequent part of the opening, Dr. Kristina Gaučė introduced cities.multimodal uptake on planning and implementing multimodal mobility points. Illustrated with the example of the City of Vilnius’ she shared the complex planning process behind it all. cities.multimodal’s take on mobility management for schools and kindergartens was introduced by Magdalena Szymanska from the City of Gdansk. Other cities.multimodal representatives were Lisa Wiechmann from the City of Rostock and Robert Dahlström from the City of Kalmar who both took part in the workshop about taking mobility measures from planning to practice.

Because of the original event venue being in Riga, one of the sessions was devoted to Riga and the city’s involvement in sustainable mobility projects. In the session, Nika Kotoviča from Riga Energy Agency (REA) presented Riga’s very first mobility point that was inaugurated in June 2020.

Every international conference also includes a social programme and now, in pandemic times, also that needed to be “virtualised”. In the evening of the 2nd day the “first ever online mobility party” was organised. The participants were entertained by DJ Arturs playing mobility-inspired hits and a quiz, and what can we say – it worked!

On the last day of the event the focus was set on future issues; Matthew Baldwin Deputy Director-General of DG MOVE and European Coordinator for Road Safety and Sustainable Mobility, spoke about the European Green Deal and what the European Commission is doing for supporting sustainable mobility. Joachim Lohse former Senator for Transport, Env. and Construction in Bremen quoted Winston Churchill “Never waste a good crisis” for emphasising the incentives for using the momentum the Covid-19 epidemic has given us for improving sustainable mobility in our cities. For example, the sales statistics tell their own story, both car sales and air travels decreased by ~70% in spring 2020 in comparison to trend expectancies, in addition to this our everyday mobility behaviour has changed.

In the event’s concluding panel discussion Matthew Baldwin, Joachim Lohse, Thomas Erlandson Senior Adviser and Coordinator from the EUSBSR PA Transport, Angelo Meuleman from Taxistop, Anton Nikitin from Vilnius municipality and Kenneth Gyllensting from the City of Karlskrona lively discussed the challenges for local authorities, the gap between strategies and the needs out in the mobility field.

The event provided us as organisers with a lot of new learnings and experiences, the participants hopefully with inspiration and ideas to take to their own cities and work.

Hopefully there will be a 2nd edition of the Baltic Sea Region Mobility Summit!

 

Text by Sini Lamoureux & Esther Kreutz