Intelligent Transport Systems in the European Union: a new start?

01 February 2021 - Published by Matteo Candelari

The European Union has finally decided to act on the Intelligent Transport Systems legislation and drive forward this interesting thread of the transport sector. That’s very good news for BITS as it shows how relevant and inspiring such a project can be. BITS is showing how smart cycling is already working in certain provinces and cities and how it can be integrated in the broader ITS world. Moreover, it shows the importance of funding these kind of initiatives as they can become frontrunner in shaping future urban strategies.

The European Commission has recently worked on the assessment of the ITS Directive that is currently in place. The evaluation concluded that the objective of the Directive to accelerate and coordinate the deployment and use of ITS applied to road transport and its interfaces with other transport modes was only partially achieved. Three key problem drivers have been identified within the current system:

  • A lack of interoperability and continuity of applications, systems and services.
  • A lack of concertation and effective cooperation among stakeholders.
  • Unresolved issues related to the availability and sharing of data supporting ITS services.

As it was recognised a clear need for further action on these issues, the Commission opened up a consultation to hear the opinion of the public and stakeholders on possible measures and potential impacts of a revision of the ITS Directive.

The first phase of the consultation about a general feedback on the EU roadmap took place in November 2020, while a second phase is taking place in January/February, concerning more detailed aspects such as measures, impacts and priority areas that the revision of the ITS Directive is going to cover. After this second phase of the consultation, the dialogue between the Commission and the stakeholders will go on, involving DG MOVE and the key players from the public and the private sector.

CIE and BITS strongly support the need for a revision of the ITS Directive, highlighting three aspects:

  • The current over-emphasis on motorized travel and the need to boost ITS in active mobility and cycling.
  • Request for a better focus on urban ITS strategies, with a strong support for cities and regions.
  • A European comprehensive approach on ITS, bringing together the different modes of transport in an efficient multimodal system.

The key aspect is that the solutions for a better deployment of ITS need to reflect the role of connected cycling which at the moment is restricted to a few leading countries. The EU should strengthen the support for cycling ITS to get greater consistency and a wider rollout. For example, developing data sets and standards for routing, travel planning and travel choices, including active transport in MaaS initiatives, developing a better multi-modal approach to urban transport and providing funding and investments opportunities.

What is needed is a EU comprehensive urban strategy able to bring active mobility into every forum: cycling should not be missed out on future implementations!