1 Introduction

The digital revolution started in the middle of the last century, integrating digital technologies into everyday life. This megatrend is known as digitalization and in the last decade has re-shaped the urban mobility landscape. We have seen worldwide emerging in our cities new business models enabled by digital technologies: online marketplaces for carpooling or carsharing, bike sharing systems, etc. But not only passenger transport has experienced the digital revolution. There are also new digital business models for hyper-local logistics, crowd-shipping services for last mile delivery and cargo-hitching.

Very often the new mobility services face regulatory challenges. A good example of this are the free-floating scooters that flooded cities operating under different companies only to face later bans and restrictions. Legislative and governmental issues are thus affecting the implementation of new business models [1], sometimes also hindering economic opportunities.

The creation of new job profiles also impacts on the quality of the labour market and its regulations. Specifically, there is a heated social debate in Europe regarding the platform economyFootnote 1 and its link to precarious working conditions [2]. Countries such as The Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy or the UK have already approved national laws for regulating the employment status of workers in the platform economy.

Concerning the social dimension, there is an additional debate related to the digital divide between digital savvy users and vulnerable users. This concerns not only mobility but also other universal services such as finance, healthcare or education. The group of users in risk of exclusion includes but is not limited to those without access to meaningful connectivity (rural areas, low-level economies), with lack of digital skills (older people), with language issues (migrants), experiencing cultural barriers (ethnic minorities) or having a negative security perception (women). The European Union has recently introduced the concept of industry 5.0 with the aim to promote the inclusivity in the industry strategic plans when embracing digital and green technologiesFootnote 2. It claims for “social innovation to enhance prosperity and foster good quality jobs alongside measures to support education and skill training to enable workers to adapt to a shifting job market. This includes access to technology to avoid digital gaps in regions with less industrial development and the creation of employment and opportunity with a focus on ensuring economic security and social justice at the same time. Equal access to education and healthcare as well as safeguarding social mobility are fundamental roles of governments (at least in Europe) and vital prerequisites for revolutionising industry and making it people- and planet-proof.”

Generally speaking, the impacts of emerging transport solutions are unclear and therefore not being addressed or are inadequately addressed by the current urban policy instruments. Consequently, the traditional regulatory role of cities is not adequate anymore.

Take the example of the e-scooters. By banning new a mobility solution, cities not only miss the train towards sustainability, but also evidence difficulties in managing and adopting innovation. Uptake of mobility innovations requires more flexible and adaptable local administrations. In contrast, local authorities sometimes lack the capacity to understand the technological and financial implications of innovations and integrate fact-based evidence into decision-making. Therefore, there is a need to provide urban planners and policymakers with tools to navigate urban mobility policy through the transition.

This chapter addresses an approach for guiding cities towards the implementation and adoption of new digital urban mobility solutions.

Section 2 illustrates the transition that urban mobility is currently experiencing and identifies its main driving elements. Section 3 aims to provide some enablers or facilitators for the transition to be innovative and sustainable. The aim of Sect. 4 is to provide cities with guidance to set the policy response and ensure successful adoption when introducing new mobility solutions. Finally, Sect. 5 draws the main conclusions of the chapter and proposes a path ahead.

2 Urban Mobility Transition

The evolution of urban mobility is based on the interplay between different factors. On the ‘demand’ side contributing factors include varying demographic patterns linked to economic growth and societal changes, resulting in new patterns of consumption. On the supply side, changes in transport infrastructure provision are often associated with advances in technology. Transport policy plays a major role in this transition, by funding major transport investments and through the introduction of a broad range of physical, regulatory and pricing measures. Such measures have also evolved over time and have been introduced in response to a changing set of perceived concerns, policy objectives and policy priorities [3].

Currently, unprecedented transformations are going on in the realm of urban mobility of passengers and goods. Socio-economic changes and technological advances have resulted in a state in which transport supply and demand are constantly shifting.

The latest financial crisis created a supply-side push from people seeking work opportunities and a demand-side pull from consumers seeking cheaper alternative transportation services. This accelerated the emergence of the collaborative economy, unlocking the value of existing resources and avoiding the need for additional capital expenditure.

On the other hand, the development of digital technologies and widespread Internet access have created new opportunities to make the existing transportation network more efficient and tailored to the need of different users. The concept Mobility as a Service (MaaS)Footnote 3 has become popular, fuelled by countless of innovative new mobility services such as carpooling and ridesharing, micro mobility and carsharing systems as well as on-demand “pop-up” bus services. Furthermore, the trend is motivated by the anticipation of self-driving cars, which are expected to change car ownership.

Likewise, consumers’ habits are also shifting towards on-demand solutions able to satisfy their needs for faster delivery. Digital technologies contribute to make same day deliveries a reality as well. Similar to the MaaS concept, Logistics as a service (LaaS) is gaining momentum due to the rise of the on-demand economy in urban logistics. Sustainable last-mile logistics offerings are also appearing such as e-vehicles, crowd shipping, crowdsourcing, physical internet,

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown practically that future mobility systems could be very different. It is not yet entirely clear how the “new normal” will look like, but the pandemic has highlighted the importance of issues such as health, hygiene, the environment and home life, as well as speed, convenience, accessibility, inclusivity and consumption. Soft (and also healthier and greener) modes of passengers’ mobility such as walking and cycling have become more attractive that, if supported by the reallocation of space, could permanently change travel behaviour.

Many projects funded by the European Union implement pilots and Urban Living Labs to develop, test, and validate new mobility solutions and unleash their potential (Fig. 1). Living Labs are generally defined as‘user-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on systematic user co-creation approach, integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings’Footnote 4. Living Labs operate as intermediaries among administrations in urban and peri-urban areas, public and private operators, start-ups, third sector and research organisations as well as citizens for joint value co-creation, rapid prototyping or validation to scale up and speed up innovation and businessesFootnote 5. So far, most of the developments have focused on decarbonizing and digitalizing urban mobility.

Fig. 1.
figure 1

Run session trial with two paired electric autonomous pods (NEXT system) for cargo hitching in Padua (SPROUT project)

City administrations and authorities can influence this transition by developing policies that regulate the new mobility ecosystem and enable other actors. Examples of framing actions for authorities are urban space allocation and regulation, infrastructure & data regulation and enforcement of regulations. On the other hand, authorities can enable other actors through governance, infrastructure (physical and digital), mobility demand incentives and marketing campaigns, and collaborative platforms and innovation [4].

The abovementioned actual and foreseen changes in urban mobility are motivated by different drivers. Figure 2 shows the urban mobility catalogue of transition drivers identified by the Sustainable Policy Response to Urban Mobility Transition (SPROUT)Footnote 6 project under 6 categories following the PESTEL approach (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, and Legal) including also those concerning inclusivity. It was found that the considered importance of drivers differs significantly from city to city depending on the specific characteristics and peculiarities. Considering the larger driver categories, environmental and technological were considered the most important, but when considering individual, ‘political agenda’ (category of political drivers) and ‘urban structure’ (category of social drivers) were considered the most important [5].

Fig. 2.
figure 2

PESTEL categorisation of urban mobility drivers (adaptation of SPROUT project [5])

A Eurobarometer survey showed in 2013 that there was an increasing ‘urban mobility gap’ between Europe's few advanced cities and the majority trailing behindFootnote 7. This gap has not been closed yet showing that there is a need for reinforcing the support to European cities for addressing urban mobility challenges. There is still no clear trend towards more sustainable modes of transport. Overall, there has been no significant reduction in private car use, there are still many cities exceeding EU minimum air quality standards, greenhouse gas emissions due to road transport have been steadily increasing over time and travel by public transport usually takes significantly more time than by private car [6].

The approach to urban mobility is required also ensure that Europe's urban areas develop along a more sustainable path and that EU goals for a competitive and resource-efficient European area are met [7]. At the same time, the transition toward digital mobility services must ensure that the digital divide is not growing but shrinking.

3 Enablers for a Good Transition in Urban Mobility

Evidence-based policymaking has two goals: to use what we already know from programme evaluation to make policy decisions and to build more knowledge to better inform future decisions [8].

There is an increasing demand for the use of evidence to fight against a post-fact/fake news world, and to design more effective policies and better align resources. However, very often, in reality, evidence competes with values, feelings, and emotions (of politicians and citizens), resulting in good evidence as only one element in political decision making [9]. Some enablers to ensure a good transition towards a more innovative and sustainable urban mobility are: an existing innovation ecosystem, good data availability and analytical skills, the engagement of citizens, vulnerable users, and other stakeholders, political support, and access to the right funding solutions. Capacity of local authorities to prepare and implement urban mobility measures and strategies is a prerequisite.

3.1 Innovation Ecosystem

Urban innovation can be defined as ‘A break from common practice to develop long lasting transformations in communities, neighbourhoods, and cities’ [10]. Depending on the approach followed, innovation can be incremental, breakthrough or radical.

Cities, rather than national governments, are more likely to lead change and innovation in the transport system, as they have more regulatory freedom to deal with innovative transport providers, are aware of the city-specific innovation aspects, and can at the same time stimulate urban mobility innovation and ensure the delivery of social benefits. However, national governments provide the legislation within which urban transport is developed and the regulatory framework where it operates; they determine the decision-making framework within which cities formulate and implement transport plans; they allocate a significant portion of the finance for urban transport, specify how it may be used, and determine the other ways in which cities can seek funding. Generally, regulatory approaches at national level are different, focusing on issues such as market access, employment and taxation, while leaving the equally important policy challenges at the local/urban level widely unaddressed [11].

To unlock the benefits of new mobility solutions, legal and regulatory frameworks in cities and administrations must be more flexible and adaptable [12]. Across Europe, a common challenge for projects implementing new solutions is working within legal frameworks that support traditional planning methods and are not adapted to innovations in technology and urban planning [13]. Laws and regulations restricting the deployment of autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, new market solutions, data management, building codes, and even parking, can make it difficult to implement new projects in urban environments. Even if there is political commitment, it can take extensive periods of time to adjust the legal and regulatory frameworks to implement projects [14].

Innovation deployment depends on the right conditions being in place - for instance Living Labs and large-scale demonstrations that help raise political support for sustainable mobility, and to secure investments in sustainable mobility measures. This needs to be complemented by lean procedures to facilitate the approval and deployment of urban mobility innovations, granting permits and exceptions through regulatory sandboxes where relevant.

Aptitude and readiness of cities towards urban mobility innovation varies among cities. It depends on different factors such as inter-departmental coordination in public administration, sustainability awareness of the citizens, skilled workforce on data analytics, knowledge transfer activities, participatory practices with stakeholders or open data availability [15].

3.2 Data and Analytical Skills

When cities imagine the future of mobility, frequently one of the most plausible scenarios consists of optimized and integrated mobility systems and tailored offers to citizens’ needs [16]. Comprehensive mobility data analysis is a pre-requisite for the realization of such a vision [13].

Transition requires a modern toolbox of solutions for collecting, managing, and sharing data. Understanding how people and goods move through the city is crucial to help implement the right solutions in the right places for the right target groups. Digitalization and new survey methods sustained by a technology ecosystem that supports data collection with the proper compiling, managing, understanding, and analysis of data also allow to build a more accurate picture of how specific social or demographic groups travel. The whole ecosystem of technology for data collection needs to be considered to make the most of the data available and create better visibility of movements throughout the city. More accurate data also will later allow to better measure the effects of implemented solutions.

Implementing an effective urban mobility policy becomes even more challenging in the case of urban freight, as accessing data is problematic. Little ongoing public data collection about urban freight operations occurs [17]; to a large extent due to the commercially sensitive nature of freight data and the required involvement of a large number of economic actors in a fragmented industry. In addition, there are no standards in Europe that would unify the way of gathering the data collected. As a consequence, urban freight policy is too often based on insufficiently detailed analysis and repetition of regulatory initiatives regardless of local characteristics and dynamics. As opposed to urban passenger transport, there is a lack of national or regional bodies dealing with city logistics [18].

Partnerships on data collection and management across the knowledge triangle (Research, Education and Innovation) and cities are instrumental to the provision of reliable and seamless mobility services, as well as data sharing agreements between private actors operating mobility solutions and public administration.

Given the increasing availability of open data sets, and real-time information from sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) and other applications, cities are more and more operating in a smarter way. Current lack of data could be reversed to an excess of data situation, leading to the ‘data paradox’ where there is too much generated data but too little of the right data. This will bring the urgent need for building local capacity, providing city managers with tools to help make sense of these data flows.

3.3 The Engagement of Citizens and Other Stakeholders

Acceptance of a policy by citizens and other stakeholders can be enhanced by consultation. This evidence stresses the need for the stakeholders’ engagement as a strategic factor of any decision-making process [19].

Stakeholders’ involvement can be represented as a pyramid. At the top of there is participation either in decision-making, defining objectives or project elaboration (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3.
figure 3

Community involvement in urban projects pyramid [20]

Governance is one of the key aspects of sustainable urban development, as good governance arrangements can contribute to more transparent, inclusive, responsive and effective decision-making. The three central components of the sustainable urban development process are [21]:

  • multi-level governance, referring to the coordination and alignment of actions (interventions) between different levels of government;

  • a multi-stakeholder approach, referring to the inclusion of all relevant actors throughout the whole policy cycle;

  • a bottom-up and participatory approach, referring to the use of community-led initiatives to encourage local actors’ involvement and response.

The concept of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP), which are promoted by the European Commission (EC), establishes the principle that the society should be involved from the very beginning of the planning process. SUMP is a strategic and integrated approach for dealing with the complexity of urban transport. Its main objective is to improve accessibility and quality of life by achieving a shift towards sustainable mobility. SUMP advocates for fact-based decision making guided by a long-term vision for sustainable mobility [21]. The EC introduced the concept of SUMP with its 2013 Urban Mobility Package [22] in an attempt to address urban mobility challenges and deficient planning practices on the local level. Since then, SUMPs have been established as a concept in many of Europe’s larger and medium-sized cities, and capacity in cities has been improved over the years. Yet, for SUMPs to be successful, they need to be the output of a process that involves many stakeholders and requires sufficient resourcesFootnote 8. Moreover, both passengers and freight transport ecosystem, including stakeholders should be considered from the early stages of the SUMP development to increase its impact and ensure that issues related to emissions and congestion, safety, cost-effectiveness and economic development are fully addressed [23].

Stakeholders´ involvement and citizens´ participation practices in transport planning differ between European countries and between cities. Several countries have formal, mandatory consultation procedures for mid- and large-scale transport projects as well as for the development of transport plans and SUMPs [24].

When designing inclusive mobility services and policies, it is important to first understand and then respond to a wide range of user needs. All the potential end-user groups should be engaged in the design, test and evaluation of the mobility solutions in order to maximise inclusivity.

There are some barriers to involving stakeholders and citizens successfully, often related to limited financial and personnel capacities within local authorities and also lack skills on how to plan and carry out a participation process and selecting the most appropriate involvement tools. Consultation processes can be long and time-consuming and “consultation fatigue” can be an issue [25]. Although it is a complex topic and several questions about participation still remain unanswered, citizen and stakeholder engagement are a prerequisite for long-term urban mobility planning [26]. The appointment of suitable governance structure at a horizontal level, for instance with the creation of a taskforce dedicated to this purpose is generally recommended[27, 28].

3.4 Political Support

Political support and leadership constitute important enabling factors for innovation and lay the foundation for change towards more sustainable urban mobilityFootnote 9. It is also the glue between the establishment of regulations and collaborative measures with citizens.

Long-term commitments and vision (sometimes accepting the risk to fail in some projects or trials) are important features driving innovative transformation forward. In this process a stable, supportive policy environment is a pre-condition for the uptake of new mobility solutions.

Coherent mobility plans over time can be facilitated by the adoption of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning process that embeds the creation of clear strategies and detailed implementation roadmaps. Long-term plans as is the case for the SUMPs enable the development of the urban mobility capacities required to have a long-term impact, beyond isolated initiatives.

Political support is also required to steer consumer behaviour towards more sustainable mobility options, maximising the adoption of these innovations [29]. Pricing and taxation are two widespread policies that can be used to promote sustainable mobility [30]. A comprehensive and systemic approach towards change implementation in urban mobility includes combining such demand-side initiatives with supply-side assistance for the development of new solutions.

As already pointed out in the previous sections, this needs to be complemented by more agile and flexible administrative procedures to facilitate the approval and deployment of urban mobility innovations, allowing regulatory sandboxes. A regulatory sandbox is “a defined space where new business models, technologies and policies can be deployed and used in a way that is safe and responsible”Footnote 10. Sandboxes support innovation in the cities and help policy makers to better understand the impact of new mobility solutions.

Likewise, clear and transparent communication and coordination with stakeholders and citizens are crucial in building the necessary consensus and delivering successful and scalable pilots leading to real-world transformations.

3.5 Access to the Right Funding Solutions

The urban mobility environment is highly dynamic. This feature makes it very attractive to major investments. However, the distribution of funding is highly uneven, concentrated on specific business models and on a few individual companies outside the EU. Innovators need access to the right financing solutions to test and scale up new products and services. Public budgets are limited and investments in infrastructure and transport services compete against other spending priorities, and private investors are often reluctant to invest in sustainable transport projects. Thus, cities need to seek additional funding and financing options and to develop business models to attract private sector investments in the development of the urban transport system. As a result, cities must explore additional funding and finance sources, as well as establish business models to attract private sector participation in the development of the mobility system [31]. Figure 4 shows an overview of funding and financing options for sustainable urban transport measures.

Fig. 4.
figure 4

Overview of funding and financing instruments [23]

The EC provisions direct funding grants from its executive agencies for projects with specific objectives. Main programmes areFootnote 11:

  • Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), created to accelerate the development of transport infrastructure across the EU

  • Horizon Europe (2021–2027 Research and Innovation programme). HE incorporates 5 research and innovation missions. Mission areas which are relevant for urban mobility include ‘Climate-neutral and smart cities’ and ‘Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation’.

  • Innovation fund, one of the world’s largest funding programme for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies

  • The LIFE Climate change mitigation and adaptation Programme

  • URBACT is a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development

  • Interreg: European Territorial Co-operation (cross-border, trans-national and interregional)

  • The Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism (REFM) to support renewable energy projects, enable EU countries to work more closely together and achieve both their respective and collective renewable energy targets

To fulfil the objectives of the European Green Deal, it is critical to identify bottlenecks and barriers to innovation and market development. The field of urban green mobility solutions and services is today mostly dominated by non-European start-ups. This is mainly due to a better access to equity financing for non-European companies and the existence of more difficulties in scaling up in Europe due to heterogeneous markets with regards to policies, legislation and regulation.

Thus, in order to remove the obstacles identified and improve access to financing for innovative transport companies in European cities, the following recommendations should be followed [31].

  • Incentivise Public Transport Operators and Authorities to open up to third party digital mobility platforms

  • Introduce a clear and standardised EU-wide definition and regulation of mobility services

  • Tailor flexible grants for fast growing service companies

As mentioned above, the development and implementation of new innovative mobility solutions require considerable investments that are difficult to fund with traditional public finance. In this context, Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) can be a very useful solution to overcome the shortage of public finance and cuts on public spending.

The establishment of PPPs is a method of long-term cooperation of public and private sectors in the implementation of projects aimed at the provision of public services. It allows the public sector to obtain resources from the private sector through a contractual agreement. This financing mechanism secures funding for the overall life cycle of the project. The aim of the cooperation is to achieve optimum performance of a public service and mutual social and commercial benefits between the parties [32].

Europe is increasingly deploying large-scale demonstrators and small-scale testing units that adopt a PPP approach. These long-term agreements typically include [33]:

  • A financial commitment from both sectors public and private;

  • The deployment of the demonstrator or the testing unit by the private sector for a given period of time;

  • The commitment of the public sector to being a facilitator for demonstration and testing activities, whether in terms of political support or the provision of infrastructure by municipal authorities; and

  • The sharing of the risk-reward potential derived from delivering the services or infrastructure.

Such cooperation between the public and private sectors enables businesses to industrialize and validate their innovations. Likewise, enables private sector to commercialize and profit innovative solutions. On the other hand, public sector is able to boost regional competitive advantages that lead to economic growth and create quality jobs.

4 Guiding Cities Through Transition

With the aim to guide cities through their urban mobility transition, and thus develop effective policy responses to emerging solutions, the hereby proposed approach focuses on understanding the impacts as well as the operational feasibility of such new mobility solutions.

In the context of the Sustainable Policy Response to Urban Mobility Transition (SPROUT) project that is funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, an evaluation framework [34] was developed which is structured around two main pillars: operational assessment of the pilot impacts (outcome evaluations) and assessment of urban mobility policy responses in the pilots (process evaluation). For both pillars, the evaluation tackled the following:

  • Methods for performing the assessment

  • Assessment indicators

  • Information needed from use cases or other sources

  • Information collection means and sources

  • Limitations

In order to do so, it built upon a combination of existing methodologies, among others FESTA methodology for assessing Field Operational Tests (FOTs), Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) for financial and economic aspects of the pilots, Global Logistics Emission Council (GLEC) methodology on emissions reporting for environmental impact, as well as specific CIVITAS tools, such as the NISTO evaluation toolkit or multi-actor multi-criteria analysis (MAMCA).

4.1 SPROUT Project Evaluation Framework

The present paper details the insights from the application of the framework to six cities in the framework of H2020 SPROUT project.

SPROUT implemented nine pilots in five cities focusing on feasible and sustainable emerging mobility solutions that could benefit from an appropriate policy response. This policy response could translate into improved sustainability or decreased negative impact of the solution.

  • This was done following a three-pronged approach:

  • test the new mobility solutions and assess the operator’s operational feasibility and financial sustainability

  • assess the economic, environmental & social impacts of the new mobility solutions and identify potential policy intervention areas

  • assessing policy-related and regulatory barriers

As mentioned above, the pilots tested that an appropriate urban policy response could be implemented to harness the benefits of the emerging mobility solutions. In order to do so, local policymakers were involved jointly with other relevant stakeholders to prioritise the potential policy responses, and a subset of those were introduced in a limited scale. The proposed evaluation framework not only enabled assessing their implementation feasibility but also their user acceptance.

Stakeholder workshops and surveys were used for assessing the urban mobility responses in each pilot city. On top of that, SPROUT leveraged the commonalities among the pilots, to gain a deeper insight into their outcomes. This led to key policy implementation messages accompanying the successfully tested city policies.

Indeed, when looking at potential policies and user acceptance, it was important to understand that the adoption of new urban mobility solutions require defining policies that not only target city goals (e.g. reduce environmental impact) but also do not worsen other variables (e.g. accidents).

This depends on the city stakeholders? levels of acceptance. While service operators focus on ensuring operational feasibility and financial sustainability of the solution; the city targets maximal social and environmental benefits with an associated minimal cost. In any case, citizens are determinant for adoption success, as they represent both end-users who benefit from the service and/or those who bear the consequences.

The role of policymakers is key in catalysing all the stakeholders’ requirements by defining tailored policies to each specific idiosyncrasy. However, as stated throughout this paper, mobility solutions emerge fast, leaving them little room for reaction. Thus, a policy evaluation framework as the one proposed in this chapter would improve their decision-making process, not only guiding them with a clear methodology but also relying on fact-based evidence.

Indeed, the application of the proposed evaluation framework in SPROUT project gravitated around the already mentioned three-pronged approach that can be seen in Fig. 5. The SPROUT project adapted the generic FESTA methodologyFootnote 12 for planning and running a field operational test to cover the pilots’ activities, from guiding their setup to appraise the outcome and the process. Thus, evaluation is divided into three phases:

  • Preparing phase: It focuses on the definition of the research questions that will help to find the indicators and define the collection and assessment methods pilots will use during the next phases.

  • Using phase: It covers the data collection phase when using the mobility solution and performing user acceptant test, questionnaires and workshops.

  • Analysis phase: Analyse the compiled data to define the policies requiring intervention or being removed and draw the city policy response.

“Cross-cutting issues” are depicted in the centre of Fig. 5. They include all the aspects considered by the FESTA methodology such as the implementation plan & context definition; the role and involvement of the stakeholders that will participate in the pilot activities; the ethical and legal issues required for ensuring data privacy, and cultural or regional backgrounds. As pilots are small-scale multi-stakeholder demonstrators, it is essential they define the communication strategy and foresee any event that may disrupt the initial implementation plan. Therefore, the SPROUT project included two additional aspects: communication strategy and risk management.

Fig. 5.
figure 5

Proposed evaluation framework [34]

Regarding implementation, on a first stage, pilots tested in practice the emerging mobility solutions, introducing them into a limited scale “real ecosystem”. There, they collected data that not only enabled assessing the operators’ operational feasibility and financial sustainability, but also the sustainability impact. Building upon these data, cities identified policies that had the potential to enhance these results by being modified or removed. The evaluation framework responded to questions on how to measure operators’ sustainability and operational feasibility, and the sustainability impact of the new mobility solution, as well as how to use the data-based evidence to identify the policies which should be modified or removed.

The second phase focused on the resulting policies with negative impacts, the existing alternative responses and the compiled stakeholders’ preferences, so pilots could evaluate and prioritize policies to incorporate. Again, the evaluation framework guided the cities on how to evaluate and prioritize the policies. In this regard, the selected methodology was multi-criteria analysis (MAMCA), which allows prioritizing the policy responses shows the synergies and conflicts between the stakeholder groups and determines the level of consensus of each alternative [35].

Last, from the list of prioritized responses, pilots’ policy-makers selected a subset to be implemented at a limited scale. Pilots thus assessed their implementation feasibility and user acceptance to validate the alternative policies. This led to cities drawing the city-specific policy response. Finally, the evaluation framework provided a methodology on how to define and assess the implementation feasibility and user acceptance, as well as how to use the results for defining the final city-specific policy response.

5 Conclusions and Path Ahead

Impacts of emerging mobility solutions are inadequately addressed by current urban policies, as a successful transition requires collecting, managing, and sharing data. This is even more challenging in the case of urban freight policy making, due to lack or insufficient data accessibility.

This transition relies on the combination of several factors, with new consumption patterns stemming from economic growth and societal changes on the demand side, and digital technology advances together with widespread Internet access on the supply side. Transport policy plays a major role in this, not only by means of providing funding to transport investments but also by deploying physical, regulatory and pricing measures, along with promoting knowledge sharing and education.

Key enablers for urban mobility transition are an existing innovation ecosystem, quality data availability and analytical skills, citizens and stakeholders’ engagement, political support, and access to funding, on top of local authorities’ capacity to prepare and implement urban mobility strategies. Involving all potential user groups in the design, test and evaluation of mobility solutions is crucial in order to ensure inclusivity and accessibility.

This chapter proposes an approach for guiding cities towards the implementation and adoption of new digital urban mobility solutions. Specifically, this paper proposes an evaluation framework to guide cities assess the operational outcomes of pilots as well as the urban mobility policy responses (processes) in those pilots. These two pillars (outcomes and processes) are intertwined, as a successful evaluation is essential for both, i.e. running implementations and testing activities smoothly; and assess the impacts that ultimately support decision-making. This evaluation framework is meant to be used by any city that wants to speed up the policies definition when introducing new mobility solutions.

As next steps, this chapter outlines how the above proposed evaluation framework could be complemented with the insights stemming from H2020 INDIMO project on inclusive digital mobility solutions. Indeed, INDIMO evaluation framework [36] incorporates inclusivity and accessibility among its building blocks. This could be added as a third pillar to the outcomes and processes ones hereby presented, not only ensuring that urban mobility transition is inclusive and accessible, but also that it minimizes physical, cognitive and cultural barriers, incorporates the gender perspective and tackles vulnerable groups’ needs. Given the complementarity, combining the two projects outcomes and learnings would help cities to balance the triple-bottom line of the sustainability.

In summary, by ensuring a correct execution of the proposed evaluation frameworks, cities can draw city-specific policy responses to ensure the satisfactory adoption of new mobility solutions. Therefore, the present evaluation framework lays the grounds for guiding policymakers through inclusive urban mobility transition. The scalability potential of the proposed frameworks can play a key role in the overall transition to climate-neutral economies and societies.

This is indeed one of the challenges recognized by the European Commission in its Research and Innovation Programme Horizon EuropeFootnote 13. In order to address them, the programme focuses on supporting and implementing EU policies with open calls addressing desired impacts – that the EC refers to as destinations.

Already the first calls of Horizon Europe programme present destinations that are building upon the grounds laid in this paper. Indeed, the Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM)Footnote 14 destination can leverage the hereby presented outcomes evaluation strategy by calling for “all technologies, solutions, testing and demonstration activities being documented fully and transparently, to ensure replicability, increase adoption, up-scaling, assist future planning decisions and EU and national policy-making and increase citizen buy-inFootnote 15.

Moreover, the Cross-sectoral solutions for the climate transition destination expects the engagements of citizens and stakeholders, in line with the process evaluation presented in this paper. Indeed, this destination targets, among others, “more effective policy interventions, co-created with target constituencies and building on high-quality policy advice” and “greater societal support for transition policies and programs, based on greater and more consequential involvement of those most affected” (See footnote 15). Projects addressing this destination could therefore build upon the hereby presented evaluation approach, with its specific stage to compile stakeholders’ preferences, that are subject to later evaluation and prioritization by policymakers.

Beyond this specific destination, future research will involve a broader integration of citizen and stakeholder engagement across the whole Horizon Europe programme.