Integrated traffic and land use planning for sustainable mobility

Three factors to combine to create what may be termed as a strategic decision-making and planning process are identified by researchers at VTI. The three factors can be summarized as long-term visions for the town’s development, long- and short-term actions, and public support for the long-term vision.

The way buildings are positioned relative to the design of traffic systems influences the public’s travel patterns and their choice of transport mode. It is therefore important that building layout and traffic are coordinated in order to create sustainable mobility. Sustainable mobility is an umbrella term for measures that reduce the number and length of car journeys and the need to travel at all. The aim of this study is to shed light on the conditions under which local authorities coordinate building development and traffic issues with respect to sustainable mobility.

This investigation is based upon a pair of case studies, and examines the handling of building and traffic issues during the planning of two residential areas, one in Lund and one in Trelleborg. The study analyses how coordination between these two areas has been influenced by, for example, political interest and public support for a more sustainable transport system, and the distribution of tasks and responsibilities within the local administration, as well as the methods used to achieve coordination and to create mutual understanding between politicians and officials.

The case study findings show that circumstances differ when it comes to the local authorities’ coordination of building and traffic issues. In Lund – with its public support for sustainable mobility, politicians’ and officials’ general agreement on longterm urban planning goals, workable planning structures, and mechanisms to achieve consensus between the parties concerned – conditions were favourable to coordination of public transport and building planning. In Trelleborg there was less coordination between traffic and building planning, which among other things resulted in less propitious conditions for public transport. One explanation for this is the fact that public transport did not have an obvious role to play in the realization of Trelleborg’s long-term development goals.

The results show that where coordination has worked, three factors have combined to create what may be termed a strategic decision-making and planning process. The three factors can be summarized as (i) long-term visions for the town’s development, (ii) long- and short-term actions, and (iii) public support for the long-term vision. The first factor concerns the way in which building and traffic issues relate to conceptions of future urban development. To achieve long-term climate and energy goals, such conceptions should be based on the principles of sustainable mobility. It is important that coordination is made a tool for the implementation of planning policy. The second factor concerns how the vision is turned into concrete, long-term and short-term actions. Politicians and officials must be in agreement if real influence is to be brought to bear on actual decision-making and planning processes. Swedish local authorities should therefore develop mechanisms to enhance mutual understanding between politicians and officials on the basic principles of sustainable mobility. This becomes especially important whenever it is necessary to change the underlying systems of thought that hinder greater coordination. In addition, the long-term vision for urban development should be clearly formulated in strategic plans, and the structure of those plans should form a framework that supports work on a variety of levels. The third factor concerns public support. Without public support it becomes hard to make the occasionally difficult political decisions that affect the public’s travel behaviour. Public support can also be a driving force behind the realization of political decisions.


  • Planning and decision-making processes
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  • Town planning
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  • Public transport
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  • Traffic
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  • Residential area
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  • Sustainability
Cover of VTI publication.
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  • Research area: Planning and decision-making processes
  • Published: 2012-03-26
  • VTI-code: R742

VTI rapport 742 (46 pages, written in Swedish with an English summary)

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