Skip to main content

A Shift in Urban Mobility and Parking?

Exploring Policies in Relation to Practices

Time: Fri 2021-10-22 10.00

Location: Videolänk, Du som saknar dator /datorvana kontakta Joseph Mulligan / Use the e-mail address if you need technical assistance, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Planning and Decision Analysis, Strategies for sustainable development

Doctoral student: Fredrik Johansson , Strategiska hållbarhetsstudier

Opponent: Professor Greg Marsden, University of Leeds

Supervisor: Associate Professor Greger Henriksson, ; Doctor Jonas Åkerman, Strategiska hållbarhetsstudier; PhD Pelle Envall,


The transport sector is associated with many environmental challenges, including carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Research indicate that CO2 emissions should decrease by at least 50 % per decade in order to be in line with the Paris Agreement, and the transport sector is highlighted as a particularly challenging sector. Sweden, which is the case study in this thesis, has a goal of reducing CO2 emissions from the transport sector with 70 % between 2010 and 2030. This target is, however, not likely to be met if current trends continue. New technology will probably not be enough to reach the target, and car ownership and car travel will probably also have to decrease. Furthermore, many households do not have access to cars, and do not benefit from policies that facilitate car use and car ownership. The purpose of this thesis is to critically analyse policy measures on parking and mobility in metropolitan areas in Sweden with the aim of being in line with the CO2 emission goals set by the Paris Agreement, as well as investigating how the aims of the Paris Agreement can be met with a backcasting study. All studied policy measures highlight the need to shift focus from physical infrastructure to accessibility. In each case, however, current practices and conditions render a transition more difficult.

The first paper in the thesis studies the Swedish Transport Administration (STA) mandate to finance different measures. The STA states the importance of reducing the need to travel and making more efficient use of existing infrastructure, and stipulates that these types of measures should be considered before new infrastructure investments. However, the STA has a limited mandate to finance measures with the aim of reducing the need to travel, which results in ambiguous signals to, and frustration among, regional STA officials. This paper demonstrates that making the STA’s mandate more function-oriented would facilitate a transition in line with the sustainable mobility paradigm.

The second policy measure discussed in this thesis is the shift from minimum parking requirements, where developers are obliged to build a minimum number of parking spaces in order to obtain a building permit, 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 parking. The second paper in this thesis follows two blocks of flats built with flexible parking requirements. Car ownership has decreased in both blocks of flats, and car use has decreased in one of the blocks of flats. Furthermore, car sharing membership and use have increased considerably. However, the process of leaving a car dependent social practice is slow and the conditions (e.g. the technology; and ways of finding, booking, and paying for services) need to be relatively stable for the practice to grow. Other policies may also be needed for emerging social practices to grow. Some of these policies have been implemented in Stockholm (e.g. congestion charges, on-street parking fees, extension of public transport and bicycle infrastructure). However, there is also a trend in the opposite direction; such as new urban highways. Future interventions could be made open to residents in adjacent properties, if more people are to be attracted to the mobility services.  

The third paper in this thesis discusses the feasibility of using a new parking management tool; “Parking Benefit Districts”, in a European context (Stockholm, Sweden). In a Parking Benefit Districts program, on-street parking charges are implemented, increased or extended, and the resulting revenues are returned to the areas where the charges were imposed. Citizens, or other stakeholders, then participate in deciding how to use these revenues. The underlying intention is to increase acceptance of parking charges, as on-street parking charges may be considered necessary by city 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 as to 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.

The fourth paper is a target-oriented backcasting study. The paper depicts a future image for parking and mobility for the city of Stockholm that is in line with the CO2 emission goals in the Paris Agreement, and then examines how to plan for parking and mobility in order to steer towards this future image. The paper points out that current parking standards (the flexible parking standard discussed in Paper II) is far from being in line with the Paris Agreement, and emphasizes the necessity of a different planning approach. The paper also presents a path of development thought to be in line with the Paris Agreement.