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Polycentric Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans
Project Description

Poly-SUMP has defined a methodology for the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans  (SUMP) in polycentric regions - characterized by the presence of several  areas of development - in which goods and services, and therefore transport needs are distributed in different cities/ municipalities. Mobility planning in these areas is complex, involving administrative bodies of more areas, sometimes located even in different countries.

The proposed methodology is developed through different phases, aimed at overcoming barriers and building a dialogue between all the actors involved, with the aim of defining a common ground of action and a shared vision about the approach to sustainable mobility within a polycentric region. Planning urban mobility in these regions requires the coordination of policies and services, as well as the coordination of different actors: urban and transport planners, local and regional political leaders, urban and interurban public transport providers. Without such planning, citizens are inclined to opt for a "do it yourself" solution, with a consequent increase in individual car use.


    The Poly-SUMP Project provides detailed guidelines to support policy makers, transport operators and other stakeholders in the polycentric regions in the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. The SUMP in a polycentric region refers to the entire network of its urban centers and administrative boundaries and envisages the participation of members of the territorial government bodies at various levels, of different interested parties and of citizens.

    Poly-SUMP has collaborated with six regions across Europe for the development of a participatory methodology for the preparation of a SUMP. The regions involved were: Region of Marche (Italy), Central Alentejo (Portugal), Central Macedonia (Greece), Heart of Slovenia (Slovenia), Rhine Alp (Austria) and Parkstad Limburg (Netherlands). All the Regions involved in the project have concretely tested innovative planning processes to arrive at the adoption of mobility plans and simultaneously verify the transferability of the method to other six regions in Europe.

    Project Phases

    A SUMP has the primary objective of improving accessibility to urban areas through sustainable and high quality mobility systems, towards, through and within the urban area. The Poly-SUMP Methodology is based on the planning cycle for the development and implementation of a conventional SUMP, integrated with specific activities aimed at a better understanding of the polycentric urban Regions and the promotion of a participatory process that includes different municipalities and interested parties. This integration process allows the adaptation of the conventional procedure to the peculiarities of the polycentric regions. The three phases of the methodology’s development were:

    Phase 1 – preparation: analysis of the characteristics of the poly-centric region in terms of urban structure and characteristics of the transport/ mobility systems, carried out with the support of an IT tool able to trace the regional mobility profile, through the analysis of which possible criticalities were identified.

    Phase 2 – creation of a shared vision of a shared land: using as input the evaluations emerged from phase 1, a participatory process is activated through the "Future Search" Learning Laboratory. This activity connects all those involved in the process of improving the entire system. The workshop consists of a three-day meeting involving 60 to 100 people who share a common purpose. The "Future Search" methodology allows organizations and communities to learn more together than anyone could discover for themselves. All participants are faced with the complexity and uncertainty of a given situation and can make more informed and clear decisions. The advantages of the "Future search" methodology are as follows: create a shared vision and an action plan for an organization, for a network or community, or for the entire Region; allows all interested parties to act on a common basis and take responsibility for their own plans. The Labs were focusing on three themes:  

    • Diagnosis: looking to the past to analyze how the current mobility situation has developed.and looking to the future to explore the structural trends that could affect mobility patterns in the coming years;
    • The future we want: definition and sharing by the participants of the ideal future situation. The actions aimed at achieving the desired future are also outlined in this phase;
    • Action plan: drawing up of concrete projects and actions on the basis of the visions developed in the previous phase.  

    Phase 3 – use of the results and drafting of the Plan: after completion of the assessments and actions identified within phases 1 and 2, starting of a formal coordination process aimed at drafting a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for the whole Region. The process includes three main actions:

    • Validation of the Lab results: through a survey given to the participants, the identified actions are classified in terms of potentially generated impact;
    • Fine-tuning of actions: results of the survey are further refined through laboratory and the regional profile definition processes;
    • Additional monitoring with policy makers and stakeholders: involvement of policy makers and stakeholders  in order to facilitate additional monitoring of planned actions.
    Project Results

    The Poly-SUMP project has developed various tools to support politicians, transport operators and other stakeholders in the polycentric regions in the process of initiating and developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans:

    • Guidelines: the innovative aspect of the developed Methodology is to introduce specific activities in the first three phases of planning in order to assist polycentric regions in the preparation of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. The guidelines provide useful tools to understand how to use the applied methodology for the realization of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan in a different polycentric region and how to adapt it to its own territory;
    • Web tool for the definition of the regional profile: ten indicators were identified concerning the structure and regional transport models that support the definition of the polycentric profile of a Region. With the help of the Regional Profile Tool it is possible to illustrate and compare the urban structure and transport models of a polycentric region with similar regions in Europe. The results are presented in a spider-web diagram which allows to deduce the degree of polycentricity of a Region. The more polycentric a region is, the more urban centers and functions are distributed throughout its territory and the greater the volume of mobility is between these centers. Furthermore, depending on the shape assumed by the spider-web graphic, it is possible to draw general conclusions about the characteristics of regional mobility (eg polycentric regions with a "powerful" capital).
    • Practical guide on the “Future Search” Lab technique for polycentric regions: this Lab  technique was the basis on which a common vision has been developed. Through the participation of all relevant mobility-related stakeholders, in the laboratories concrete actions were identified for the realization of this vision.

    Each of the six regions that successfully experimented the Poly-SUMP Methodology subsequently twinned with another region to transfer the acquired knowledge. The polycentric regions that have experimented the methodology have developed plans for mobility by improving cooperation between the various levels of government, improving coordination between neighborhoods and strengthening the active participation of stakeholders and civil society players.

    Number of reference
    Reference Programme
    Beneficiary Coordinator
    Regione Marche
    EU contribution
    Call Year
    Start Year
    End Year
    Beneficiary headquarters

    Via Gentile da Fabriano 9
    60125 Ancona AN


    Area di riferimento: Marche, Rhine Alps, Parkstad Limberg,  Central Alentejo, Hearth of Slovenia, Central Macedonia, Salonicco.