Towards a sustainable mobility paradigm? An assessment of three policy measures

Sammanfattning: Transportation and mobility are important components in the organisation and structure of people´s daily activities, but the transport sector has considerable environmental impacts, e.g. greenhouse gas emissions and land use. Governance of the sector is difficult, as there is an ongoing a shift in governance structures away from hierarchical towards more collaborative governance. Given these challenges, it may be necessary to shift the focus from mobility to accessibility and to adopt a new paradigm in transport planning.This thesis critically investigates what a paradigm shift might mean for the Swedish national and municipal transport, housing and parking planning context and examines what a Social Practice Theory framework could contribute in analysing such a paradigm shift. This is done by investigating three different policies that are arguably in line with a shift in planning paradigms.All three policy measures open up decision making to different stakeholders or even citizens, reflecting a shift in governance, and all highlight the need to shift the focus from physical infrastructure to accessibility, through collaboration with a range of stakeholders. However, in each case, current conditions and practices render a transition more difficult.The Swedish Transport Administration (STA) states the importance of reducing the need to travel and of using existing infrastructure more efficiently, and stipulates that these types of measures should be considered before new infrastructure investments. However, the STA has a limited mandate to finance these measures, resulting in ambiguous signals and frustration among regional STA officials. This thesis shows that making the STA’s mandate more function-oriented would facilitate a transition in line with the sustainable mobility paradigm.Another policy measure discussed in the thesis is a shift from minimum parking requirements, where developers are required to build a minimum number of parking spaces, to flexible parking requirements, where the number of parking spaces provided depends on the local context and where other mobility services may replace the need for physical parking spaces. In this thesis, people who have bought apartments in developments with flexible parking requirements were surveyed in order to understand their practices and how they perceive and plan to use the mobility services provided.The feasibility of using a new parking management tool, Parking Benefit Districts, in a European context (Stockholm, Sweden) was assessed. In a Parking Benefit Districts system, parking charges are implemented, increased or extended to curb parking, with the revenues being returned to the area where the charges are imposed and with citizens, or other stakeholders, participating in decisions on how to use the revenues. The underlying intention is to increase acceptance of parking charges, as on-street parking charges may be deemed necessary by planners, but are unpopular among citizens and other stakeholders. This thesis shows that there are no legal barriers to implementing a Parking Benefit District programme in Sweden, but there are some limitations on how revenues can be used. Moreover, Sweden does not have this planning tradition and the programme may not be perceived as legitimate. Another important issue is equity and participation, e.g. it is important to consider who to include and how to include them.Overall, the policy measures studied involve a shift away from an infrastructure-centred to a people-centred approach. However, other planning practices and institutions may push in different directions. This thesis shows that a Social Practice Theory framework can be useful as a lens through which researchers and policymakers view possible changes needed to achieve a sustainable mobility paradigm.