EU Commission’s Review of the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive: A missed opportunity says Cycling Industries Europe

21 January 2022 - Published by Matteo Candelari

In December the EU Commission published a range of policy measures under the heading “Green and Efficient Mobility”. Cycling organisations concluded that much of the package was very positive for cycling, but one key document doesn’t appear to match up to the other publications.

The first review of the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive since 2010 is an opportunity to set a new framework for digital transport services, multi-modality, shared mobility and innovations such as connected and automated vehicles. CIE carried out an analysis of the proposals for the BITS Project. CIE’s view is that the wording and purpose of the Directive have changed in a welcome direction, but the proposed actions fall short of what is needed, not even matching other ITS measures published on the same day within the Urban Mobility Package.

According to CIE, the Commission has clearly identified the need for change in its proposal, saying things like “The strategy is clear: in order to make transport truly more sustainable we need to deliver effective and seamless multimodality, using the most efficient mode for each leg of the journey” andzero-emission fleets should not lead to zero-emission traffic jams”. The principles by which ITS standards will be developed also include safety and equality of access for vulnerable road users, which is a positive development and entirely in line with the goals of the BITS Project.

The Urban Mobily Package published alongside the ITS Directive review also identifies extensive needs and opportunity for data services, multi-modality, information sharing and access controls, all of which can help take up of cycling in cities and can be aided by ITS tools. This is very welcome because this validates the work done within the BITS Project to implement a wide variety of ITS solutions in pilot cities and regions. Partners will be very encouraged to see an explicit reference to creating standards for cycling infrastructure data sets, a really important enabling measure for cycling services and creating safer conditions for cyclists that was identified alongside the development of data sets in BITS and the BITS CycleDataHub.

However, when it comes the revised ITS Directive itself a lack of mandatory requirements means that the goals of the revision and measures in the Urban Mobility Package are not binding on national governments, so attracting less priority.

Only collecting road data for motorised transport networks will be mandatory for all EU Member States with cycling and walking data not even mentioned. CIE welcomes the announcement that all public transport connections in the EU must provide information on access for people with limited mobility, but that leaves millions of journeys not covered by EU-wide information.

The list of specifications for standards to be used by ITS service providers looks to be stronger, with many mentions of multimodal trips, data and services, for example “Specifications for EU-wide multimodal digital mobility services and road traffic information and navigation services”, but very close scrutiny raises concerns that many references could be interpreted as only motorised traffic and public transport, explicit references to active mobility would give more confidence.

Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) is mentioned extensively in the documents and identified as a priority area with new initiatives to prepare the ground for automation. Cycling industry experts are contributing to a programme for research into VRU safety as part of the CCAM research programmes which gives hopes for positive developments. But again, the ITS Directive revision itself lacked any references for standards to protect cyclists or the wider community of vulnerable road users, most safety actions refer only to safety of drivers and the implications of traffic disruption. 

Kevin Mayne, CEO of Cycling Industries Europe responded to the analysis “I would call the current situation confusing. We have called for ITS in the EU to reflect the needs of today’s mobility and some of the words appear to support those goals. But when we examine the detail the revised Directive itself doesn’t appear to give the clear leadership needed. We welcome the positive steps, but we will clearly have to continue our advocacy to get the EU’s actions on ITS to be joined up with its goals for urban mobility, climate, congestion and road safety.”

BITs partners will use the remaining year of the project to strengthen the evidence and recommendations emerging from the project, which can inform the Commission on the need to comprehensively include cycling across ITS and other policy frameworks, helping the Commission to meet its goals for greener and more efficient mobility.