Innovative Urban Transport Concepts
The aim of NICHES was to help stimulate a wide debate on innovative urban transport and mobility between relevant stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines across the EU and accession countries, in order to promote the most promising new concepts, initiatives and projects from their current "niche" position to a "mainstream" urban transport policy application.
Four working groups covered the following thematic areas:
The NICHES project objectives were:
NICHES provided coordination for a wide range of innovative urban transport concepts through a combined programme of stakeholder involvement via targeted in-depth interviews, expert working groups (adopting a successful focus group approach), and validation as well as dissemination workshops, accompanied by desk research and good practice analysis.
NICHES enhanced the discussion on urban transport innovation in Europe and helped to bring together a wide range of relevant stakeholders for a very valuable exchange of information and good practice.
Through the networking activities as well as the provision of recommendations and concrete guidance for the implementation of innovative concepts (see policy notes for download below), NICHES also helped to kick-off the concrete uptake of several innovative urban transport concepts. The NICHES policy notes, which give advice on the implementation process (preparation, actual implementation phase, follow-up/ long term strategy) for all 12 NICHES Concepts proved to be extremely valuable for stakeholders interested in the uptake of the innovative solutions. Some concepts visibly met with high interest and WG leaders were approached from many sides for more information and advice on implementation. This was for example the case for the concept of public bicycles, which currently is a 'hot topic' in France and Spain. Other concepts were more difficult to "sell" and a direct uptake is difficult to achieve (e.g. more complex concepts such as Transport Management Associations). Nevertheless, the encouragement of discussions on such concepts was also seen as very valuable by experts participating in the WG meetings (e.g. through the exchange with US experts on the topic) with a view to the long term potential.
Overall, the feeling of the Consortium and the majority of the experts who participated in working group meetings was that NICHES filled a gap by promoting innovative urban transport concepts, which still have underused potential and can become important elements of future urban mobility and transport strategies across Europe.
OSMOSE website on innovations in urban transport: http://www.osmose-os.org
We had a strong role in NICHES and provided the technical coordination of the project. We were also the Working Group leader for the thematic area of "New Seamless Mobility Services" and responsible author of many NICHES publications.