The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning

Research Project: Concepts for future urban traffic

Project briefing

  • Status Completed
  • Project duration November 2017 – February 2019
  • Programme ExWoSt

Communities are challenged by sustainable mobility and the integration of transport development and urban planning. The success of implementation has been very different so far. The research project analysed communal mobility plans systematically. With discussions in an expert workshop it has been possible to generate central findings as well as recommended procedures in which way traffic infrastructure can be improved through a higher quality of urban planning including an improvement of environmental, living and sojourn quality conditions.


The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) is pursuing the aim of a compact, integrated and sustainable city with the initiative "Neues Zusammenleben in der Stadt" (new coexistence in the city), which was presented in October 2015.

This research project analysed the conceptional preparations cities and communities take to manage challenges of traffic and of city planning as well as the factors contributing to integrated city and traffic planning policy, to organise mobility adequately and thus to raise the quality of life and the environment in cities and regions. Many municipalities have already developed and implemented diverse concepts and approaches for sustainable mobility. Since the success of implementation is very different at the municipal level, the different concepts are analysed.

Despite all efforts the traffic density in most cities is still increasing. This development is mainly driven by population growth and increasing freight traffic. Simultaneously, the number of commuters is growing in many cities. The car dominates the street as well as the city scape and the stationary traffic needs more and more space. Nevertheless, changes in mobility are recognisable in cities. This includes the increasing importance of cycling and multimodal transport together with sharing concepts and an increased demand for public space. Especially in public spaces mobility changes become visible and tangible.

In the course of these developments, municipal, strategically oriented transport concepts are changing. Traditional planning methods, which so far relied solely on the expansion of the motor vehicle infrastructure or consider streets and squares from a technical-structural perspective and are strongly focused on technical standards, prove to be no longer sufficient. Preliminary traffic concepts developed from the former "Generalverkehrsplan" are often implemented today under the name "Verkehrsentwicklungsplan" (VEP). Recently the terminology varies between mobility strategies, master plans for mobility, urban mobility plans and Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP). Until the mid-1990s, VEP were the key strategic and framework plans on the local planning level. New national and European laws have necessitated the coordination and strategic integration of other sectoral plans (e.g. local transport planning, planning of air pollution control, noise reduction planning, concepts for climate protection, etc.). For this reason, integrated urban development or transport concepts, sometimes regarding selected areas, are being established, making complexity possible and taking up the political dimension of planning and developing public spaces.


The central issue of the study was whether and in which form municipalities already address the described challenges, possible changes and new approaches in the transport concepts and the municipal practice. Accompanying research questions structured the research and drew attention to the following aspects:

  • successful integration of disciplines and spatial units
  • successful participation processes
  • successful qualification of public spaces
  • reduction of vehicle traffic and environmental pollution
  • strategies to ensure the implementation of conceptual considerations
  • treatment of new fields of action for future mobility

The research project was intended to close gaps in knowledge and action. Based on concept analyses and case studies of inspiring examples from Germany and other European countries, feasible approaches for solutions showed how traffic infrastructure can be designed. Conclusions should be drawn and success factors, barriers and ways of dealing with them should be highlighted. Ultimately, opportunities for optimisation of how municipalities can design the transport infrastructures in the sense of higher urban planning quality with an improved of environmental, living and sojourn quality conditions were indicated.

Contractor of this research study was Planersocietät, Dortmund.


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