Pushing the Mobility Evolution - this is inspirational!

13 October 2022 - Published by Deirdre Buist
How do we evolve towards more sustainable mobility, what are the barriers and how can we break these down? During the latest Inspiration Day, organized by Netwerk Duurzame Mobiliteit in Mechelen (BEL) on 22nd September, the focus was on these and other questions regarding ‘behaviour and change’. SURFLOGH joined in this important network event - bringing and recieving inspiring examples to push green logistics and mobility towards a zero-emission future.

Marking the closure of  European Mobility Week, the day kicked off with a stimulating presentation by keynote speaker  Professor Cathy Macharis  on the ’30 Days Less Car’ campaign which recently ran in a number of Belgian cities. The results of this experimental push towards behavioural change – life with fewer privately owned cars - were encouraging.

We noted some numbers:

  • 1500 left the car standing completely for a month
  • 6 out of 10 used the car 4 days a week max
  • CO2 reduction equal to 64 cars less a year
  • 5 out of 10 take the train more often
  • 1 out of 10 uses a shared car for the first time.


 Prof. Cathy Macharis shares insights and recommendations  from '30 Days Less Car'

What’s changed?

Professor Macharis shared more insights with the 130 participants about the behavioural aspects  and a list of policy recommendations resulting from  the ’30 Days Less Car’ campaign. What’s changed? While walking and cycling remains a good  basis, there are lots of reasons why NOT to leave the car standing (time, weak public transport connectivity, the weather, comfort etc.). But, most who participated in the experiment discovered just as many – perhaps more – positive reasons to choose an alternative mode (more exercise, physical and mental health benefits, the weather, social interaction, cheaper, fun, good for the environment).

Follow up

There is a follow up planned whereby this experiment is expanded to further regions. Concluding her speech, Cathy Macharis presented  a report with recommendations to local politicians. The advice included the following:

  • Make it easy for people to test sustainable mobility alternatives, with widescale information about the available possibilities. Supporting a campaign like ’30 Days Less Car’ is an important first step.
  • Invest in a broad mix of public transport and shared mobility systems.
  • Ensure that sustainable mobility is synonymous with affordable, reliable, efficient, safe and comfortable – so more than just ‘good for the environment’.

Modes & Motives

After the plenary, participants could join a wide selection of themed workshops, divided under the headings Modes and Motives –  all extremely relevant for transport and mobility stakeholders. SURFLOGH followers joined the  exchange on sustainable logistics, chaired by Bart Dumoulin, coordinator of the Flemish Green Deal for Urban Logistics.

Sustainable logistic solutions

This session focused on the impact of logistics on the livability  of our environment and on the latest Flemish initiatives in terms of sustainable solutions, particularly in smaller cities and more rural municipalities. Of course SURFLOGH’s own partner from Mechelen, Veerle de Meyer, presented and shared her wealth of knowledge and experience gained over the past years as project coordinator of European mobility projects.

Upscaling strategies

Many familiar pilots passed the revue, all aimed at improving air quality with efficient, sustainable logistics while reducing the number of transport movements and CO2 emissions. Veerle also described the next steps taken by Mechelen as the Municipality upscaled their strategy and some challenges regarding bottom-up and top-town approaches.


Veerle de Meyer presents SURFLOGH pilots and strategies at during Inspiration Day 2022

“We commissioned bPost as coordinator of a delivery service, working together with prevailing parties, operating from a city hub and supplementing the existing cargo bike fleet. “ Veerle explained. “This trial thought us a lot. The main conclusions were that we should really think hard about the criteria for tendering, including extra points for sustainable transport and consolidation. Competition between logistics players and commercial profit remains a bottle neck. City councils will have to implement stricter policy in order to force more sustainability and efficiency gains. And maybe the Municipality should provide the location for a city hub to keep it neutral?”

Rural last-mile challenges & bike courier project

The audience at the logistics session was treated to some more  thought-provoking  presentations from:

  • Geert Verbelen, of VIL, the Flemish  innovation cluster for logistics, where he leads several projects related to e-commerce and last mile logistics. He talked about the challenges for sustainable last mile deliveries in a more rural environment.
  • Erwin Lauriks, Coordinator at  Werkmmaat, a cycling and employment programme matching social with sustainable. At the beginning of 2022, a bike courier project was started up in the Flemish city of Lier, whereby the inner city became a designated cycling zone. Aim is to reduce motorized parcel deliveries and inspire other small cities to follow example. Take a look at (Dutch)

More presentations

This certainly was a day full of inspiration, with lots more happening in other sessions! Dutch readers can access the full programme and all presentations on the Inspiration Day 2022 site here.