Transforming Cities: The Global Impact of Early Walking and Cycling Interventions

Person on a bike waiting at the traffic light in Metro Manila

In pursuing sustainable urban mobility, the MobiliseYourCity Partnership emphasises the effectiveness of investing in walking and cycling as early and impactful strategies for developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs).  

While the conventional investment ratio for public transport versus active modes stands at 10:1, the Partnership advocates for a more balanced approach, recognising that walking and cycling initiatives are cost-effective and swiftly implementable. Without any doubts, public transport infrastructure is essential for meeting citizens' mobility needs; but investing in walking and cycling provides a nimble and economical solution for immediate impact. 

The early implementation of walking and cycling measures plays a pivotal role in sustaining momentum after the completion of SUMPs. Recognising the prolonged timelines associated with public transport projects, adopting low-cost interventions, such as tactical urbanism and reallocating road space for non-motorised transport, ensures the swift initiation of sustainable mobility measures. This proactive approach keeps authorities motivated and serves as a practical solution for piloting measures and kickstarting the overall implementation of the SUMP action plan. 

In this transformative landscape, international cooperation agencies are called upon to support these low-cost, high-impact actions that facilitate the early phases of SUMP implementation. By championing walking and cycling initiatives, stakeholders can pave the way for a sustainable urban future while establishing a robust foundation for the subsequent phases of the SUMP action plan. The efficiency and efficacy of investing in walking and cycling not only align with immediate urban mobility needs but also set the stage for enduring, impactful transformations. 

MobiliseYourCity has supported a series of walking and cycling interventions to strengthen institutional arrangements at the local level and implement walking and cycling solutions. These projects require special coordination among local authorities due to their particular nature, which combines public space, road management, traffic and circulation. MobiliseYourCity, just through the Euroclima+ programme, has supported Havana, Cuba; La Paz, Bolivia; Puebla, Mexico; Ibague, Colombia; Curridabat and Montes de Oca, Costa Rica, to implement pilot projects on walking and cycling, comprising cycling parking, cycling lanes, bike sharing systems, and improving accessibility to public spaces for pedestrians.    

The Partnership keeps on encouraging other member cities and countries to develop SUMPs with a strong focus on walking and cycling, considering the high modal share such modes have, especially in Africa and Latin America. The AFD has allocated 10 million euros to finance a walking and cycling programme supporting Antananarivo. The programme includes upgrading 50 km of urban roads to improve walkability and safety, enhancing business areas and school accesses, upgrading paratransit stops and related accesses, improving public spaces through tactical urbanism, constructing cycling lanes, and building capacities for the local government.  

With the aim of sharing this experience in Asia, MobiliseYourCity held an event to elevate the topic of walking and cycling in urban mobility planning in the framework of the Asia and the Pacific Transport Forum 2024. The Forum was organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) between 14th to 17th May 2024 in Manila, The Philippines. The objective of the event was to provide guidance to plan for low-carbon, sustainable urban mobility through non-motorised modes of transport.   

During the event, the MobiliseYourCity Secretariat, the MobiliseYourCity Asia Programme Management Unit, the consulting firm IDOM, ITDP Indonesia and the ADB presented the importance of considering walking and cycling in urban mobility policy and presented good practices for integrating active modes of transport in larger mobility projects related to last-mile connectivity for public transport.   

MobiliseYourCity Partnership's commitment to prioritising walking and cycling not only addresses immediate urban mobility needs but also sets a strong foundation for sustainable, long-term urban development. Due to the transformative nature of developing walking and cycling, we acknowledge the importance of sharing global experiences through international events. By facilitating knowledge transfer and peer-to-peer learning, MobiliseYourCity supports cities worldwide in adopting best practices in active modes of transport, ensuring that sustainable urban mobility becomes a shared and achievable goal for all.