25 June 2020

Encouraging sustainable mobility in Antwerp post-COVID-19

The global COVID-19 crisis has led to new challenges in the field of mobility. What will mobility look like in this new “social-distance society”?

ICLEI Member Antwerp (Belgium) is being proactive. They are working to prevent mobility in the city from tilting back in favour of private cars in light of concerns regarding health risk factors associated with other (more sustainable) modes of transport.

Katia Kishchenko from the City of Antwerp recently reflected on this effort as part of an ongoing series called “On the Move in Times of Change,” which reflects on the impacts of COVID on local mobility.

She shared how Smart Ways to Antwerp – the city’s programme to stimulate sustainable mobility behaviour – is working to make alternative mobility solutions attractive again, provided that they can be used in a safe way. Their focus will be on walking and cycling, as well as supporting companies with the further development of teleworking.

Antwerp is implementing several infrastructural measures to stimulate safe cycling, such as transforming two-way cycling lanes into one-way lanes to make physcial distancing possible, further expanding "cycling streets," and making the city's cycling network more visible. The city is also spearheading long-term planning with the goal to not only promote cycling, but also to create ownership and a sense of pride in Antwerp as a cycling city.

Walking will also be promoted with the publication of a walking network and a campaign later on in the year.

For several weeks, employees have had to work from home. Although the circumstances that forced this shift were not ideal, they have led organisations to experience some of the benefits of working in this way. Antwerp has thus identified that this is the ideal time to implement teleworking in a supported and structural way.

To support companies in this venture, Smart Ways to Antwerp has launched a professional learning network. A range of online sessions will provide participating companies with a platform for exchanging experiences, receiving valuable feedback and highlighting best practices in teleworking effectively.

The full effects of the COVID-19 crisis on mobility remain to be seen. It is, therefore, crucial to monitor the situation at all times and adjust city strategies accordingly. Only in this way, can we tackle these (new) challenges and work together towards solutions.

Antwerp is working with other European cities to promote sustainable mobility and share their learnings as part of the CIVITAS Initiative's PORTIS and SUMP-PLUS projects. With support from CIVITAS – in which ICLEI Europe is a partner – Antwerp has committed to sustainable urban mobility planning.

Read Katia Kishchenko's full, original article by clicking here.

For more information on CIVITAS, click here.