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Era of Cities event: Antwerp, the pioneer in smart mobility, wants to change the way people move

28.04.2021 | 6Aika - en

Photo: Pixaby

Residents, tourists and 250 000 commuters move about the Antwerp Metropolitan Area daily. In addition to this, the City is also home to the second largest port in Europe, the logistics of which involve busy traffic. To make traffic smoother and reduce emissions, Antwerp is investing in the opportunities offered by smart mobility.

Reducing traffic jams requires shifting people’s behaviour and moving to more sustainable modes of transport, says the Deputy Mayor of Antwerp Koen Kennis at Six City Strategy’s (6Aika) Era of Cities event.

For the change to succeed, you need to study what mobility means to different target groups, such as commuters. How do they feel about travelling? Which modes of transport do they use, and how much time do they spend on mobility? Do they need to take their children to daycare in the morning, or visit the grocery shop on their way home?

Once data has been gathered on key user groups and their means of mobility, you need to offer them smart mobility options. The options must be smart, easy and inexpensive if the commuter is to choose a shared car, public transport or a bicycle instead of their own car.

A portrait picture of Koen Kennis, man with glasses in a suit
Deputy Mayor of Antwerp Koen Kennis, photo: Philippe Verhoeven.

Change is supported by suitable infrastructure and communications

After the Era of Cities event, Kennis adds from Antwerp that residents need support to change their behaviour. The City needs to develop its infrastructure in ways that support change.

“We must pay attention to pedestrian and cyclist routes and safe and smooth parking for bikes and shared cars,” Koen adds.

At the moment, Antwerp is contributing to the use of dock-free modes of transport, as well as planning dedicated dropzones for shared mobility vehicles.

To support the change, you need to constantly share information about smarter mobility and communicate with the residents effectively.

“When it comes to communications, Smart Ways to Antwerp plays a major role,” Kennis says.

Smart Ways to Antwerp is a smart mobility programme launched by the City in 2016, as well as an online service through which residents and visitors to Antwerp can find the easiest mobility solutions. The service helps people find smarter mobility solutions with a route planner and provides up-to-date information on roadworks, for example.

Smart Ways to Antwerp informs and holds campaigns for various target groups regarding the opportunities offered by smart mobility.

“The online service is presented at various events. Furthermore, the programme also participates in organising events, the largest of which is Antwerp Shift, an annual festival dedicated to mobility.”

Every year, thousands of Antwerp residents actively participate in the festival, eager to learn about new possibilities of mobility in the city.

Mobility services developed together with companies

Smart Ways to Antwerp acts as the City’s outpost, keeping an eye on new trends and innovation in the field of mobility, and works in close cooperation with mobility experts, service providers and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) operators. In addition to this, the City also cooperates directly with employers.

“We analyse employees’ mobility with the employers and offer free trials for using modes that are more sustainable than private cars,” Koen says.

One out of three trial participants adopted the option offered after the trial period. In these cases, the shift in behaviour has occurred.

“However, traffic jams involve a number of factors. To reduce them, we also cooperate with logistics companies. We are trying to help them find more sustainable solutions for deliveries, such as night deliveries and the combined use of storage in strategic locations.”

The changes in mobility are monitored through Smart Ways to Antwerp. It is constantly collecting data and trends about transport and mobility. The City is using the data collected to monitor and analyse the quality of the services produced by the companies involved in the cooperation.

“All companies offering shared mobility services in Antwerp are required to integrate their services with Mobility as a Service operators,” Koen explains.

The City is currently working on a service where the transport modes of various providers could be used for a single monthly fee or ticket during a single journey.

“We want smart mobility to be possible everywhere in the City, not just in the central areas.”

See the Deputy Mayor of Antwerp Koen Kennis’s presentation at the 6Aika Era of Cities event: