Triple Access Planning

Navigating the path to sustainable urban mobility: insights from a conversation with UK practitioners

By Daniela Paddeu, Glenn Lyons, and Kiron Chatterjee, UWE Bristol

Addressing global climate change is not just a stock phrase; it is a call to action that resonates deeply with the challenges and aspirations faced by urban mobility planners.

We interviewed 23 practitioners between September 2022 and February 2023 to understand their perspective on the past, the present, and the future of urban mobility in the UK. These were predominantly transport planners, with some spatial planners, and a few planners who were looking at the role of digital services. Although all involved in planning in their current work, they had a wide variety of educational backgrounds and experience. We used the ‘Seven Questions’ interview method, which is designed to be thought provoking and to allow interviewees flexibility in responding while taking them on a ‘thought journey’ between the past, present, and future.

What have we learned?

Exploring the perspectives of practitioners allowed us to identify some pathways to a vision of success for urban mobility planning. We identified key themes, including transport decarbonisation, accessibility to opportunities, travel behaviours, transport system characteristics, urban environment design, mindsets of the public and politicians, and governance and technical processes.

The urgent need to decarbonise transport, while providing equitable access.

Transport decarbonisation came out as a strong theme across all practitioners. It is not just about ‘hitting net-zero decarbonisation targets’. It is about understanding how to achieve ‘intelligent decarbonisation’. This means that we should promote more equitable and effective ways of encouraging active travel and placemaking to enhance local service accessibility. We need to provide evidence that sustainable measures produce environmental and social benefit, and we should engage with the public to increase acceptance of carbon reduction schemes. To do so, recognising that we need to overcome public reluctance and empower local authorities are crucial steps.

It is not only about decarbonisation though. Success in urban mobility planning should be measured by ensuring the population has sufficient accessibility to opportunities. This includes the need for transport to contribute to good quality, equitable access to goods, services, and opportunities. The Triple Access System concept, encompassing mobility, proximity, and digital access, was highlighted by practitioners as a valuable tool for prioritising areas in need of better accessibility.

The impact of digital access, accentuated by the rise in home working and online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic, can be another key tool to increase urban accessibility. Reducing the need for travel, while enabling people to (virtually) undertake activities, will support transport decarbonisation, and increase urban accessibility. However, despite the importance of digital connectivity, physical mobility is still seen as playing a crucial role in people’s lives.

The vision of success among practitioners often focused on the need for a shift in travel behaviour and patterns, emphasising a reduction in car use and an increase in active travel and public transport. This would not only help achieve carbon reduction targets but also address other issues such as congestion, air quality, health, and liveability of urban areas. Modal shift can here play an important role. We will need to design appropriate and effective modal shift strategies. This can include, on the one hand, the adoption of a model hierarchy favouring pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport. On the other hand, we will need to understand how to reduce the use of car with stick measures (e.g., traffic restrictions) and explain what the social benefits are to the population. This could be accelerated by engaging with local developers to create low-car developments. An ideal transport system was described as one that offers a real choice of alternatives to the car, promoting multimodality, which will be enabled through the integration of various transport modes through concepts like Mobility as a Service.

The way we design our urban space to maximise access to places, goods, and opportunities.

Another important factor to achieve the success of urban mobility planning would be designing the urban environment in a way that limits the need to use motorised transport, as we can access everything we need walking or cycling (or online). We will need to create places that are liveable, walkable, and pleasant, where residents can meet most of their needs locally, reducing the need for private car ownership. The 20 Minute Neighbourhood concept was seen as being a powerful concept but will require improved road safety to support active travel. Success in urban mobility planning was described in terms of developments that prioritise safe walking and cycling.

It is rather unfortunate that the ‘20 Minute Neighbourhood’ concept has been weaponised as part of current so-called culture wars. A commonly mentioned necessity for change in our interviews was the transformation of mindsets among the public and politicians. It is important to win hearts and minds to encourage people to adapt and change their behaviours. To achieve this, communication, education, and changing the narrative to emphasise positive aspects and social benefits of sustainable transport are key. It is not just about the public. A change in the mindset of politicians is needed, whereby there is reduced influence of car drivers on political decisions. It becomes therefore important to improve consultation and to find new ways of engaging younger communities to achieve better public engagement.

Key take aways from the interviews

With this blog we wanted to share some insights from practitioners’ hopes and fears about achieving their vision of success for urban mobility planning. All the practitioners that we interviewed acknowledged that power in the UK is very centralised, and the relationship between central government and local government in decision-making processes and financial support are key threats to future success. There should be a greater devolution of power and funding to local governments, providing them with more autonomy to implement effective plans. In particular, longer-term funding settlements and improvements in the transport appraisal process could enhance the efficiency of local authorities in supporting public transport services. Cross-sector collaboration, a long-term perspective, appropriate funding, and political agency become essential for successful urban mobility planning.

The conversations we had with practitioners shed light on the multifaceted challenges and aspirations within urban mobility planning. The Sisyphean nature of urban mobility planning, coupled with new catalysts for change such as the climate emergency, deep uncertainty, and digital accessibility, presents both opportunities and challenges. This has been a deep learning experience for us, and we received a strong message about the need for collaborative efforts, a long-term perspective, effective communication, and a balance between technological innovation and evolutionary planning. As practitioners navigate the complex landscape of urban mobility planning, the blog calls for a collective effort to address the pressing issues and move towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

Triple Access Planning

Have you woken up to the importance of diversity?

Glenn Lyons, UWE Bristol / Mott MacDonald

Imagine cooking an important meal. What matters most – the ingredients or the recipe? Sure, a skilled cook can sometimes work wonders with poor quality ingredients or even come up with a new recipe on the spot if the wrong ingredients are to hand or some are missing. But better surely to have the best ingredients possible – ones that together have the prospect of moving the dish from being tasteless and bland or overpowering and unpalatable to a culinary delight that leaves everyone satisfied when they eat the meal.

Now turn to your professional life and imagine preparing a strategy or engaging on important topics to improve understanding. What matters most – the participants or the process? Isn’t it self-evident that the people involved will be a significant determinant of what emerges? You would think so and yet it seems when it comes to the transport sector (which remains male dominated) we may have problems with ingredients and recipes. We’ve got so used to a diet of heterosexual white men serving up mobility solutions that we seem to have overlooked whether new ingredients and a fresh recipe might be able to serve up something new that pleases more of those who are on the receiving end of the results.

Here’s a test for you – I bet without too much trouble you can find an example of an all-male panel (manel) at a transport event (or one which has one woman with the rest being men). Did you pass that one? OK, how about finding an example of a panel that is rich in diversity in relation to protected characteristics (those being: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation)? Not so easy I’m guessing.

Shouldn’t it be obvious that improving diversity in our engagement enriches the dialogue and outcomes? Diversity reaches further than protected characteristics to also reflect experience, areas of expertise, worldviews, status and so on. In one sense that manel you found is likely to be diverse in some respects, but plainly it could have been much more diverse.

Doesn’t this sound rather woke though – trying to be progressive in relation to identity and race? After all, it’s about having the right expertise involved isn’t it? If that manel has five leading experts on the topic who happen to be men, what’s the problem? It seems startling that this can be a standpoint some would take. Worthy of note is how often it seems this can unconsciously affect how groups of people are convened – manels by accident not by design.

The project Triple Access Planning for Uncertain Futures has tried to raise such issues – at least in terms of gender – into its consciousness and in turn into its behaviours. Earlier this year our monthly team meeting coincided with International Women’s Day and the topic was discussed. We reflected on our strongly (though not exclusively) white male team composition at proposal stage that lay the foundations for the project. We knew we needed to do better. Along the way we have had some successes in terms of engagement activities where we have consciously sought good gender balance. Diversity brings difference of perspective and insight to light. One simple yet important example was the female voice that highlighted fear of personal security in a systems thinking workshop – a key variable in the transport system and Triple Access System and yet one easily overlooked. From different countries represented in the consortium we noted the following: (i) even if there are national role models, gender representation in the workplace can be low, making it challenging to in turn create diverse project teams; (ii) while the planning profession can be better than transport planning at recognising the importance of diversity, top positions in policymaking are still very male dominated; and (iii) gender equity became more visible in one case nationally when the requirement from the EU to prepare a Gender Equality Plan was addressed. As a group we recognised that generational chance offers signs of encouragement for equality but just before our team meeting, the Secretary General of the UN had noted that “On the current track, UN puts gender equality 300 years away”.

There is much to do globally but surely as professionals we can make a much more concerted effort to do better. As a minimum let’s call out those panels and discussion sessions where diversity is conspicuous by its absence. Let’s try and be more consciously competent when we are in positions of organising engagement activities so that more richness of human diversity is part of the dialogue and in turn helping to shape better outcomes. If we want better planning and better planning outcomes then we need to pay more attention to the planning ingredients.

Triple Access Planning

Framing through gaming

By Maha Attia, Sander Lenferink & Vincent Marchau, Radboud University

Triple Access Planning (TAP) for uncertain futures requires practitioners to rethink their approaches to planning. We apply the Framing, Exploring, Choosing framework (Marchau et al. 2019) to help the practitioners in a step-by-step redesign of their planning to urban accessibility. For the Framing phase, two gaming workshops were held in the cities of Utrecht and Nijmegen.

Figure 1: Elements of the DMDU approach (Adapted by (Malekpour et al., 2020) from (Marchau et al., 2019).

The game simulated decisionmaking within two departments (mobility and land use) in  how they choose their individual and, subsequently, collective package of policy options for urban accessibility. The game has two distinct lines through which it aims to contribute to practice, a collective aim and an individual aim.

Collective aim

The game simulates and stimulates interorganizational collaboration on policy options. Two municipal departments discover to what extent their thoughts on a TAP policy package align. The participants express a couple of experiences:

  • “The game showed how our mobility plans must explore future spatial developments and vice versa. This is not done sufficiently in practice.”
  • “Negotiating the different policy measures was interesting, especially looking into the synergies and working together was fun and helped create a good discussion.”
  • “It was good to discuss green spaces and energy efficiency, rather than merely focusing on more housing and transport connectivity”

During the gameplay the participants were able to formulate common goals and an approach to come to a selection of policy options. Most participants note that their trust in cooperation with the other department has increased through the game. They indicate a better feeling of the other departments interests, and more confidence that they can come to an integrated policy package for their cities.

Individual aim

The game was also used to test whether individual knowledge (framing) of the Triple Access System (TAS) has improved. Participants are asked to draw a mental model of their understanding of the TAS before and after playing the game. The image below shows two of these mind maps.

Preliminary conclusions that can be drawn from the mental maps are that after playing the games session planners added more digital connectivity factors and connections in their systems view. Also more indirect relations and additional land use and mobility factors were drawn. This seems to indicate that their system understanding has been broadened to include digital accessibility. During the debrief this was acknowledged by the participants:

  • Taking a step back to look at the whole system is not usually done in practice; it was a good exercise. We usually think of the system in our minds and have different assumptions about it, but putting it on paper is different.”
  • “It helped me develop an overarching thinking of the three different levels of accessibility, starting from each system’s internal dimensions/specifics and moving towards thinking in terms of a system of systems.
  • “It amplified the thinking about how the interdependencies can be positive and negative (e.g. adverse effects). There has to be a balance, also with allowing more digital connectivity, as this can negatively influence other parts of the system.”

Next steps

All participants indicated that the game was fun to interact with. It facilitated open discussions on accessibility and urban planning and it added new perspectives. As a consequence, every participant expressed a desire to be involved in the next game, which concerns the next step in the DMDU approach: exploring. To be continued …

Triple Access Planning


By Antonio Comi, University of Rome Tor Vergata

Many cities have started to understand and address the challenges associated with urban goods mobility issues by developing urban goods mobility visions and strategies, as well as implementing actions, for goods transportation at a region or city level. However, comprehensive strategies for last mile delivery of goods at an inner-area level are often missing. Last mile delivery of goods is a difficult issue to tackle, and in the next future it is expected to accommodate concerns related to the expected changes in the field, which are governed by a high level of uncertainty:

  • small and frequent shop deliveries (due to the limited availability of retail store surfaces in the inner areas, resulting from high rental costs and just-in-time policies);
  • e-commerce and omni-channel retailing;
  • new delivery service to fulfil customers’ requests, e.g., express deliveries, same-day deliveries, and instant-deliveries;
  • reverse logistics, for both recycling and handling products no longer desired or used.

In addition, there is a high level of uncertainty related to shopping activities, which in turn, influences urban freight flows. For example, the choice of retail type by end consumers (e.g., small shop, supermarket, shopping centre) may depend on the accessibility of commercial areas. Thus, if there are changes in accessibility (for example, due to the management of shopping travel demand), it may lead to changes in the preferred shop type where to buy and/or the transportation mode used to reach commercial areas. Additionally, changes in the characteristics of end consumers, the geographical distribution of residential property and shops, and/or accessibility to the commercial area, may impact freight restocking characteristics. Similarly, some actions (measures), implemented to reduce the impacts of freight flows, could reduce the restocking accessibility of an area and push towards the re-allocation of retail activities. On the other hand, the increasing inclination towards on-line shopping can push urban freight transport and logistics operators to implement new business models to accommodate the users’ requests and the local regulations. In fact, for example, in Europe, 74% of internet users bought or ordered goods for personal use in last years. End consumers have changed their behaviour and purchasing decisions over time, gradually moving from traditional distribution channels to new ones. Therefore, a crucial challenge to sustainable urban freight distribution lies in the growth of e-commerce and door-to-door services, which are bringing about significant changes in the delivery process. Furthermore, cities are particular complex systems, characterized by a high concentration of population and human activities of various kinds, i.e., moving from residence toward work, leisure, and the health. This concentration of population and activities needs a greater availability of goods,  thereby requiring the management of supply chains for both traditional in-store sale channels and the new channels associated with on-line sales.

Three main classes of actions have been developed to limit the impacts of parcel deliveries (especially of e-delivery), and effectively manage freight flows within the city areas by optimizing loads, as well as of the dimensions and typology of vehicle used for freight operations:

  • pick-up delivery system: it consists of a set of different places (pick-up points or parcel stations) strategically positioned within residential areas, where users can take their parcels. Users can collect their parcels from these locations. They can be traditional or automated. The formers operate through local shops or other public concerns where packages are dropped off for collection by their individual recipients. The latter ones are automated, and people can access to packages 24 h a day from locker boxes usually located in shopping centres, gas stations, etc. Users can use the service at their convenient time, while transport and logistics operators can limit the negative impacts of delivery sprawl and failed deliveries;
  • crowd shipping: this model promotes collaboration among professional and non-professional users. It is an innovative delivery model that harnesses currently underutilized transport capacity, resulting in reduced transportation costs and emissions;
  • two(multi)-echelon delivery systems: these systems involve a warehouse located at the boundary of service areas (e.g., city boundary), delivery (city) hubs and customer location. Warehouses serve the purpose of packaging orders and delivering shipments to the corresponding delivery (city) hub, while the delivery (city) hub functions to receive and consolidate shipments from different warehouses/distribution centres, and then delivers the shipments to customers in its location (zone).

Besides, telematics is offering new opportunities for optimising delivery processes. In particular, the evolution of emerging information and communication technologies (e-ICTs) has paved the way for the development and implementation of new integrated and dynamic city logistics solutions, leading to new frontiers in intelligent transport systems (ITSs). Transport and logistics operators should and could have access to technological solutions to improve the sustainability and efficiency of their urban freight transport operations, as required by international and local authorities. E-ICTs based solutions can reduce the number of kilometres driven in urban areas, increasing safety and reducing environmental impacts and congestion. In this context, the telematics can support the new delivery system based on the concept of micro-consolidation centres (MCC). Such a scheme consists of the establishment of logistics platforms in the heart of urban areas, where consolidated goods are stored before final delivery to customers. From these spaces, last-mile deliveries are carried out using light freight vehicles or soft transport modes (for example, on foot or by cargo bikes), through which congested or restricted urban areas can be accessed. Conceptually, MCC and nearby delivery bays can be described as multi-echelon systems, where the inner platforms represent a smaller-scale version that require minimal infrastructure and no storage equipment UCCs (i.e., same-day deliveries), resulting in relatively low investment.

Accordingly, urban freight planning has been promoted to address these challenges, aiming to integrate urban logistics schemes/services/regulations into overall mobility strategies and solutions. However, it followed the conventional approaches of mobility ones, i.e., forecast-led paradigm. Evidence shows that plans become rapidly obsolete and lack resilience in the face of future developments. Therefore, close to the opportunity to merge the goals of sustainability and the quality of life towards to create smart cities, planners must adopt policies that account for an uncertain future, and policy analysts play a vital role in assisting policymakers in choosing preferred courses of action. Therefore, planning should be extended to accommodate uncertainty, i.e., encompassing unpredictable dynamics such as demographics changes, economic developments, locational choices, regulatory context, technological breakthroughs, travel demand, and stakeholder behaviour. These factors should be explicitly considered during plan development and implementation.

In this context, planning should point out the opportunity to enhance the definition of future scenarios and propose the most suitable actions for implementation, leveraging the potential offered by engagement and communication. The different actions could not be implemented if they have not enough public (i.e., collectivity and operators involved) acceptability. Scenario planning must be able to provide decision-making support that decision makers are receptive to. Through scenarios, a range of challenges and opportunities could be explored and communicated. Visualizing and illustrating these scenarios through images, animations and narratives, along with relevant data, can help depict potential futures. Some research projects are currently exploring these directions. An engaging storytelling, which will take shape through the film element, will facilitate the understanding of the different scenarios by stakeholders and policy makers, and will ensure that an informed and evidence-based decision-making process is carried out. Therefore, future efforts should primarily focus on  developing scenarios that improve decision making and how to build a coherent set of scenarios that align with the goals expected by society.

Triple Access Planning

Scenarios and uncertain futures for accessibility in urban and regional planning – The practitioners’ reflections

By Jonas Bylund, Marcus Adolphson, Tony Svensson, and Jacob Witzell, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

While the TAP project departure assumption point that integrated accessibility regarding land use, digitalisation, and mobility is a complex issue for planning practitioners, the Swedish planning practitioners in Norrköping seemed to relish the opportunity to explore and reflect upon accessibility and uncertainty in different scenarios for future development. 

During 2022–2023 a series of workshops was held with urban and regional planners in the City of Norrköping (and the Östragötaland Region) on how to utilize scenarios among cross-sectoral planners (i.e. transport and strategic comprehensive oriented planning officers) for the municipal planning process to integrate accessibility (in the full sense). The series of workshops were the operative side of what we may now perhaps call the shadow planning policy lab in Norrköping. Similar to a living lab but still slightly more ‘sandboxed’: live planning issues and concerns were used and put through the scenario development ‘machine’. Yet the formal decision-making apparatus was kept outside the exercise. A key aspect of testing the approach in a policy-lab setting was the possibility to think beyond established norms and ‘realities’ in the everyday planning context, and hence to scope what may be required for Triple Access Planning (TAP) to find traction. 

The plan for the exercise, co-designed from the outset with the Norrköping urban and regional planners, was to first identify TAP variables and sources of uncertainty. Then to explore these variables by developing four scenarios along a cross of degrees of resource availability on the Y-axis and degrees of transport efficiency on the X-axis. Following this a stress-testing and assessment of Norrköping transport and comprehensive plans and policy by using the scenarios. A normative phase to develop adaptive strategies and measures drawing on the previous work and then finally inquiries into how these strategies and measures can be implemented. (See also the earlier blog post commenting halfway through the series.)

As we now finished the sixth and final workshop and have had many thought-provoking exchanges exploring scenario paths into various futures, we reflected a bit together with the participating planning practitioners in the City of Norrköping on how the approach was experienced. 

Planners’ reflections in the shadow planning policy lab

The following three is a selection of experiences made and reflected upon by the planners in the workshop series.

On the scenario development

Throughout the workshops we created four scenarios along the X- and Y-axis cross described above which resulted in, on the one extreme, one scenario trajectory experienced as closer to current business-as-usual and a minimum intervention. On the other extreme, a scenario trajectory in which the planners found much resonance with visions set forward in current comprehensive planning and transport strategy.

Comments along the way were that the stress-test approach starting with one variable made it easier to get into the systemic thinking in the scenarios and checking correspondence and conflicts between variables. It made it easier to see how they all hang together vis-a-vis current planning proposals and strategies as well as politics and civil society points of view. That this is valuable to comprehensive planning in the future. Otherwise, the planners find it time-consuming to ‘get into’ the scenarios and for the approach, scenario methods, to be a useful tool in the everyday planning practice one would need a couple of more workshops to become ‘fluent’ – not least since the planners also would have to, if they were to use the approach in the planning practice, be able to popularize scenarios on the spot for politicians and the layperson public. 

On thinking about uncertainty

In one of the coffee-breaks during a workshop dealing with scenario variables’ stress-testing, the planners shared a sentiment that the big uncertainty for any proposed strategy to be implemented (or made into policy) is usually local politics – regardless of what scenario might be desired. There are turns, focus on particulars, lack of systemic insight, populism and negotiations which influences the carrying-through of any policy. 

The barrier or challenge seems, to a larger degree, to be one we might call ‘institutional uncertainty’ for now. That is, the common issue when considering how to implement policy is that shifting (democratically and legitimate) political values and policy directions may thwart action and impact. 

However, beyond that uncertainty there are also issues around what indicators and measures to use to build robust evidence and input into explorative scenarios and plan development. There is of course more to the issue of institutional uncertainty, but its connection to public administrative capacity for accessibility planning and urban and regional sustainable transformations seems clear. In this, institutional capacities seem to be a constant issue. 

On getting back to ‘reality’

So what did we, planners and researchers, learn in the shadow planning policy lab? We learnt that the use of scenarios – even in a ‘sandboxed’ policy lab – is a matter of timing. As one planner said in one of the latter workshops: ‘-If the transport strategy development was initiated now, we would have used scenario methods for sure!’

However, planners reflect upon that developing strategies around for instance private car use, while it is important to share and show consequences of different uses it is in the translation from strategy to measure conflicts usually turn up. That is, it is not enough to simply disseminate information. 

Related to this, and not surprisingly, by reflecting on the scenarios and how urban and transport planning practice is done today, we reflect on the need to align and shape joint priorities across sectoral boundaries. On the one hand, to shape a common capacity to analyze and value knowledge, data, etc. But also to be able to create longer-term perspectives to be able to assess various measures made – since the scenarios show a discrepancy between what the municipal strategic goals are and what we actually create budget lines for. 

A way forward?

Overall, accessibility – and uncertainty – are not strangers to local government urban and regional as well as transport planners. At least not in the City of Norrköping and Östragötaland Region. They understand and play around with the issues, they are quite analytical and reflexive. However, the planners, looking at capacity and resources, do not have much time on their hands. So, how can this policy lab be motivated? 

For one thing, the scenario approach can now be seen as an option in developing land-use and transport plans. It seems useful for at least a part of shifting mindsets, if one heeds Meadows’ idea that the most effective approach to achieve systemic transformations is changing the outlook and world-view rather than merely or putting all trust in tinkering with economy and engineering. 

Triple Access Planning

A citizen-centred conversation about the future of triple access

Glenn Lyons, UWE Bristol / Mott MacDonald

Within the TAP project, Mott MacDonald has been helping us explore with academics and practitioners how Triple Access Planning can be applied through an online interactive workshop called the FUTURES Relay. FUTURES is a six-stage vision-led approach to strategic planning for an uncertain world developed by Mott MacDonald and UWE Bristol. The Relay workshop allows people to get hands-on experience of this six-stage process. We wanted to use the Relay to engage with citizens of an urban area about Triple Access Planning and ways that transport, location and online access shape urban living.

We are now pleased to make available the report from the FUTURES Relay run earlier this year by Mott MacDonald and UWE with 30 citizens of Bristol in the UK.

While the FUTURES Relay has been run for cities around the world, Bristol (UK) is the first city in which the process has been trialled with citizens. The two-part workshop took place in March 2023 over two Saturday mornings. The facilitation team tailored the content of the Relay to a non-professional audience and sought to be as inclusive as possible within the confines of the online format. The opportunity to take part was promoted through an announcement in Bristol City Council’s fortnightly mailer “Ask Bristol” and a thank you voucher was offered to those taking part.

Bristol is a middle-sized city (472,400 residents) with a high level of diversity (at least 91 languages are spoken). Walking and cycling are used by respectively 20% and 18% of the commuters. The transport system is also characterised by traffic-related concerns – over 70% of citizens perceive traffic as a problem in their area, and the deprived areas are also those with highest risk of road trauma.

The 30 participants involved included a range of age groups, from 18-29 (eight participants) to 80+ (one participant, and six aged 70-79) and included four participants self-identifying as disabled. Participants were mostly drawn in by a desire to help contribute to change and make sure others’ voices are considered, especially those of older and disabled people.

Our report presents the ways the FUTURES Relay was adapted and applied to foster a conversation with citizens, an overview of participants’ very rich contributions to the six stages of the FUTURES Relay, and participants’ feedback on the workshop.

Two key factors affecting developments in the city were identified from participants’ inputs: the consistency of the political agenda and the extent to which citizens themselves are willing (or able) to embrace social change. Both were characterised by high importance and uncertainty. Identifying a deliverable vision for change in urban mobility is not easy, especially in the face of uncertainty. Approaches such as FUTURES – for professionals and citizens alike – allow this challenge to be addressed through shared thinking, diversity of perspective and structured engagement. It was notable during the two parts of the workshop that while encouragement had been given for participants to explore future change from a ‘triple access’ perspective, much less was said in the discussions concerning the role of digital accessibility. This has also been noted within similar engagement with professionals. It seems that while forms of digital accessibility are increasingly pervasive across society and influencing our patterns of activity and travel needs, it can be hard to bring them into the conversation when minds are naturally drawn to considering transport itself.

Citizen engagement is more important than ever, to give a voice to the community affected by change but also to benefit from citizens’ perspectives alongside those from professionals in terms of planning for change for the better. We hope the report and our shared experiences can help other urban transport authorities to implement citizen engagement building on the FUTURES Relay.

Triple Access Planning

Participatory game design for learning

Maha Attia, Sander Lenferink and Vincent Marchau, Radboud University

A goal of the TAP for uncertainty project is to offer support for planners in dealing with uncertainty, specifically for an integrated system of proximity, mobility and digital accessibility. In order to offer support for planners, we aim to develop and play serious games to stimulate learning. Game design always needs validation from expert practitioners to assess the learning challenges: who needs to learn, what needs to be learned, how can best be learned, how to measure learning? We discussed these questions with experts from practice in a Workshop aimed at collectively formulating design considerations for a game that stimulates learning on TAP for uncertainty.

The participants in our participatory workshop on game design indicate that practitioners struggle with taking uncertainty into account. It is therefore recommended to focus learning by following the basic approach for Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty (DMDU) in SUMP practice. The DMDU approach (see Figure 1) of three stages (framing, exploring, and choosing) (Marchau et al, 2019), that could function as parts of the game.

Figure 1: elements of the DMDU approach (Adapted by (Malekpour et al., 2020) from (Marchau et al., 2019).

Besides the approach to DMDU, there is a longlist of things that practitioners could potentially be learned, that were raised in the discussion. The main challenge for stimulating learning in a game is to keep it simple and focused. Therefore the participants suggest to clearly define the learning goal and learning outcomes for each stage, and base  more specific game design choices on that.

Stage 1 (Re-)Framing:

The (re-)framing stage concerns a joint understanding of the system, its issues,  and specifying a shared vision and policy options. In order to learn TAP for Uncertainty, the experts agreed that the learning outcome should be focused on adding the digital perspective to the existing land use-transport system view in practice, effectively moving from a double access to a triple access system. This means that a game on Framing has the urban planners (mobility and land-use) to explore the potential role of digital planning and the impact of digital access opportunities on their plan’s objectives, as well as be aware of their (partial) responsibility in creating digital policy options. So, having the game focused on the influence of digital on the SUMP might make it more relevant for planners to think of digital as an alternative way to reach their goals. For example, include innovative digital policy options on the game cards, or play the game without (and later with) a digital policy officer role player.

Stage 2 Exploring

The exploring stage is about generating TAS futures and test policy options against these futures The experts agree that the learning outcome should be to help practitioners consider what could go wrong with their policy options. In order to make this happen, it is crucial to enable practitioners to think broadly, i.e. about futures outside their current imagination. Only by doing so can they relate the explored uncertainties directly to the policy option in question. The exploring game could therefore concern thinking about the implications of uncertain conditions on the success of the policy options they are testing, or, in other words, by exploring in which future this option will fail (or succeed). This game must include the land use and mobility planners from stage 1, but these participants can be complemented with regional or national planners as well as representatives from other fields to allow broadening up the thinking about TAP for uncertainty.

Stage 3 Choosing

The final choosing stage concerns selecting initial measures and examining pathways that help reach the vision, given alternative futures. For this stage, the learning outcome should be on understanding adaptivity by creating pathways. This specifically should include thinking about signposts and  triggers (i.e. the monitoring system), and responsive actions. In a game this can be done by selecting a promising initial option (from stage 2), and decide on contingent actions and adaptive pathways to pursue. This game could be made most specific by focusing on a local context, where actions have a direct effect on TAS.

Now what?

Based on the considerations above, three separate game workshops will be designed, which together offer a participatory DMDU approach to SUMP planning that is focused on TAP for uncertainty. These workshops will be held over the coming months with the Dutch cities involved, among which Utrecht and Nijmegen. We will keep you posted.


Malekpour, S., Walker, W., De Haan, F., Frantzeskaki, N., & Marchau, V.A. (2021) Bridging Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty (DMDU) and Transition Management (TM) to improve strategic planning for sustainable development. Environmental Science & Policy, 107, 158-167.

Marchau, V. A., Walker, W. E., Bloemen, P. J., & Popper, S. W. (2019). Decision making under deep uncertainty: from theory to practice. Springer Nature.

Triple Access Planning

Shadow planning excercise in Nova Gorica, Slovenia – A step forward developing future scenarios as a part of SUMP development process

Luka Mladenovič, UIRS, January 2023

Nova Gorica is a mid-sized city on the western edge of Slovenia, right on the border with Italy. It is a young city, founded not more than 70 years ago. That is less than a person’s lifetime. But during this time, it has had an interesting history with several major changes in conditions for urban development – from post WW2 tension and being on the edge between east and west, to the thawing of relations in the nineties when Slovenia became an independent state. But perhaps one of the biggest changes happened just over a decade ago, when the border with Italy was finally completely removed and Nova Gorica merged with the neighbouring Italian city of Gorizia. Both cities now work together on common vision and initiatives, among other they will host the European capital of Europe in 2025. Administratively the two cities remain separated, planning for their common future in two different systems, but coordinating their vision and strategies.

Nova Gorica has a long tradition of sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMP). The city developed its first transport strategy in 2011 and a regional cross-border SUMP in 2015. The second generation of local SUMP was developed in 2017. Currently preparation activities take place for a new generation of the document, which should be developed in 2023/24. During these times the city managed to introduce a variety of new planning approaches to practice and it is very open to further innovation as it develops.

The exercise, carried out as a part of our project, was intended to help with the warming up of the development process for the new generation of SUMP but also support the city with developing a stronger role of future development scenarios. In previous SUMPs, the scenario development was a minor task that did not bring much added value to the SUMP development.

In case of Nova Gorica 2017 SUMP the three scenarios were the following:

Scenario 1: Development without new major interventions of any part of the transport system, considering 1% yearly growth of motorized traffic in next 20 years.

Scenario 2: Development of transport system considering building all infrastructure planned within the local spatial plan. Since the spatial plan provides long term reservations of space for any infrastructure which might be needed in future, this scenario drastically increases the availability of new infrastructure, mostly for motorized traffic.

Scenario 3: Focus on development of sustainable mobility and alternatives to motorized traffic.

The third scenario was identified as optimal, and all next steps of the SUMP built on development in this direction. A similar approach to scenario development was used in several cities in Slovenia and was considered as valid. But as we see, the first two scenarios, even though considered as a realistic future, could not be selected, since one of the basic commitments the concept builds on is to plan for sustainable mobility within an urban area.

The recent shadow planning exercise in Nova Gorica used the FUTURES Relay tool, developed within the project by UWE and Mott MacDonald. It was carried out as a set of two online workshops in November and December 2022. Experts from different departments of the city administration took part, as well as other stakeholders involved in the development of previous SUMPs. The process was led by the team from Mott MacDonald.

The tool leads the group of participants through 6 stages. Their commitment to sustainable development of the transport system was clear from the beginning, where preferred futures are identified. It was obvious here that the first two scenarios from the previous SUMP made no sense, but that there are various futures possible within the third scenario, which were previously not considered.

An important stage of the process is identification of important drivers of change. In most cases, when developing SUMPs in Slovenia, a very limited amount of data describing the trends in transport system was available. When considering the future development of the transport system, the available data is commonly used as the main indicator of what we can expect in future. But the exercise showed that, when considering not only transport related drivers, but also wider social, economic, political, technological, and ecological drivers, it is those that play a much bigger role in achieving the vision for future development of the transport system.

Participants of the workshop identified two drivers of the desired vision with potentially the biggest influence but also the greatest uncertainty as to whether they would arise, and in what form: political commitment to make a change and level of willingness in society to change our behaviour for the sake of the environment. As we can see, those two drivers originate from the social and political background and are most often not considered in transport planning.

Based on these two factors, a set of four new scenarios was built, reflecting possible futures with different combinations of low and high levels of influence of each of the two key driver. The new scenarios were the following:

Scenario 1: We do what we can but… Commitments regarding the CO2 emission reductions remain on a declarative level. Electric and hydrogen cars are replacing diesel cars, small changes take place regarding public transport and cycling in the city, but most activities remain as as they are.

Scenario 2: Youth takes over. Bottom-up initiatives manage to engage with wider city population. With strong influence as a result of local initiatives, awareness among residents is raised to the level where people start acting differently even without political, legal, or financial pressure.

Scenario 3: Politics leads the way. A strong environmentally oriented administration takes over.  Political decisions lead the way to change. Since the targets regarding CO2 emissions are set very high and not enough has been done in the past years to systematically achieve them, strong restrictions are needed.

Scenario 4: Partnership for change. The national government, local politicians and residents reach an agreement that change is needed. They join forces in making the change together. Ambitious policies are put in practice which influence the way we plan, build, and live in Nova Gorica to achieve the net-zero targets.

As we can see, the resulting scenarios are reflecting four different combinations of society and politics towards the change. All of them are realistic, and all of them support development of a more sustainable transport system, but to different extents.  For this reason, the last task within the shadow planning exercise was to test a limited number of different sustainable mobility measures against all scenarios. By doing so, we were able to identify more resilient measures – those which could work in different scenarios, not just one or two of them.

The shadow planning exercise in Nova Gorica helped local planners see a much wider picture of possible futures. Scenario development, which was already part of the existing methodology but previously used only as a minor task without much influence on SUMP development, was shown as a useful tool that can help with the decision-making process regarding the measures and activities that the SUMP proposes, in the context of different possible futures.

Triple Access Planning

Pointing out the shopping behaviour for promoting sustainability in urban areas

Gianfranco Fancello and Francesco Piras, University of Cagliari

Over the last years, pushed by the fasted-paced evolution of services provided by the online websites and changes in people’s lifestyles, there has been a growth in the number of last-mile operations and deliveries, which contribute to congestion, road safety and pollution of the cities.

The traditional structure of restocking of neighborhood shops, and hence of buying goods in such shops, is being increasingly modified by new forms of purchase and distribution, resulting from the Internet. End consumers have modified their behaviour and purchasing decisions over time, gradually switching from traditional distribution channels. This trend has accelerated since the imposition of measures aimed at promoting physical distancing in the attempt to counter the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. In Italy, the first European country, whose national government introduced restrictions on human activities, the number of last-mile deliveries after the lockdown period in 2020 increased of 68.5% (compared to 2019), while the proportion of e-shoppers in the group of internet users grew from 41% in 2016 to 54% in 2020. Such an evolution moves to have sprawled, small and frequent deliveries to the end consumers, as well as new ways to deliver products to customers (e.g., express deliveries – same-day deliveries, as well as instant-deliveries). The pressure on the already congested urban network both in terms of external (e.g., pollutants, noise, bottlenecks for illegal parking – road safety, traffic congestion) and internal costs (e.g., failed deliveries, high delivery costs) has thus increased significantly.

The development of e-commerce has had a large impact on individuals’ travel behaviour and different mechanisms concerning the relationship between individuals’ propensity to buy on-line and in-store have been observed:

  • Substitution effect: online purchases delivered to end consumers’ home can be a substitute for purchases made in physical stores;
  • Complementarity effect: purchasing goods online may also lead to further trips to physical stores to examine, for example, the characteristics or price of the items or to buy accessories for an item purchased online. Online shopping could be associated with more shopping trips to stores. In fact, in-store shopping allows sensory information to be obtained by seeing, trying, feeling, smelling, tasting or manipulating the desired items, providing individuals with full information about and confidence in the product. Therefore, a trip made for shopping does not necessarily involve a transaction but can be made for purposes such as information research, product testing or a return.
  • Neutrality effect: where online shopping and travel behaviour do not measurably interact.
  • Modification effect: one or more travel attributes associated with a shopping trip, such as distance, frequency, destination, or time, may change due to online shopping.

These four different mechanisms could differ depending on the type of goods. Indeed, goods can be distinguished between durable goods, grocery products and ready-to-eat meals. It is also important to acknowledge the heterogeneity of end-consumers’ behaviour depending on the type of durable goods. Differences between different kind of products (clothing, beauty, technology, books, furniture) exist and not all of them can be considered identical. Individuals could tend to choose established stores with many years of trading in their town rather than e-shopping retailers, who are unknown and may go out of business without warning. Lastly, the instant possession of items could be important; individuals can immediately own the purchased items, rather than waiting for the items to be delivered after e-shopping. Let’s consider, as an example, the case of clothing items. An individual could find on the web an item of her/his interest but be hesitant to buy it because of the size, the fabric, etc. For this reason, s/he might go physically to the store, see the item and try it. Once seen, if the individual likes it, s/he could decide to purchase it in-store or order it on-line (complementarity effect). This kind of effect could not exist for the case of books, as books are a completely different kind of item and there is no need to try them. The same could apply for some technologies products.

Another source of heterogeneity is connected with the built environment and spatial proximity. Indeed, low shopping accessibility in non-urban areas may promote the use of e-shopping and so we can be in the presence of only a substitution effect or neutrality effect. Instead, for those individuals living in areas characterized by high levels of stores density and diversity, the complementarity and modification effects could be stronger.

The last remark concerns digital accessibility. Digital accessibility, expressed in terms of ease of buying a product on-line, may have an influence on the decision to buy a product in store or on-line. The low level of digital literacy, the lack of trust in digital payment, and as said, the impossibility to receive the product in a short time, the need to be present for receiving (attended deliveries) are all factors that could hinder people from buying items on-line.

From the overview above, it is clear that end-consumers’ behaviour has a significant impact on mobility behaviour, influencing and modifying it and the process of planning should be modified consequently. In the 90s the main aim of transportation planning was to facilitate trips attracted by new shopping centers, which were located at main nodes of the transport network. All the actions and interventions were implemented to increase the accessibility of private cars and public transport, so as to make access to customers and consumers easier and easier. Nowadays this paradigm is changing: it is no longer only end-consumers going where goods are sold (at the physical store), but, with the increasing popularity of shopping on-line, it is the goods moving to the customers (from warehouses to people’s homes).

The distribution chain of products, therefore, need to be rethought and the transport systems redefined. Nevertheless, most of the policies concerning urban logistics proposed in SUMPs do not deal with all these issues and mainly focus on the retailers’ standpoints. Besides, the new strategies should consider that, in addition to the dimension of competitiveness of in-store shopping as opposed to e-shopping, external components of the in-store shopping process also have substantial influence. Shopping as a physical activity provides opportunities to meet needs for social engagement, since going shopping offers time to enjoy oneself, either alone or with friends and family. In-store shopping can also be a source of entertainment, rather than solely a maintenance activity. The function and facilities provided by modern stores (e.g., restaurants, theatres, cafés, etc.) present positive opportunities for enjoying in-store shopping. Furthermore, some shopping trips form part of trip chains for other purposes. Then, only an integrated approach, that take into consideration the needs of all the actors involved within the transportation system, including goods’ ones, could help in formulating strategies that can alleviate the impacts of traffic on the whole urban environment.

Triple Access Planning

A TAP lab with planning practice – the case of Norrköping

Jonas Bylund, Tony Svensson and Jacob Witzell, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

In the Swedish part of the Triple Access Planning for Uncertain Futures Project explores ways to inject triple access planning (TAP) into urban and regional (transport and comprehensive) planning by way of co-creative scenario development workshops with planning practitioners.

The Swedish set of workshops turns out to be an experiment in its own right. It is experimental since it makes us of an approach similar to a living lab co-design action to investigate how explorative and normative scenario development can be used to integrate TAP principles. The assumption – or the test! – is that TAP to support Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) and uncertainty considerations therein can be integrated in planning practice by way of a shadow-planning practice where researchers and civil servants in (relevant) public administrations work together to develop the scenarios and the approach.

Shadow planning in this case means we are using real plans and strategies in a sandbox environment. In effect, then, we are using the shadow planning exercise as a living lab where the substantial content and active ingredients – i.e. problems, issues, concerns, trajectories, considerations, questions and reflections on what are realistic developments, what makes sense, what strains the imagination, what are causes and what are effects, what are macro and what are local variables, etc. – are mainly developed by the local expert-practitioners and problem-owners.

For instance, factors such as climate change, national policy, municipal remits, technological developments, and so on are open at the outset and collectively determined and relatively stabilized during the run of the successive workshops. It is hence genuinely challenge-driven in a transdisciplinary approach with an aim towards capacity building (cf. Bylund et al. 2022; JPI Urban Europe).

The lab setting

During autumn 2022 the work commenced with the City of Norrköping planners from comprehensive-strategic and transport divisions as well as a strategic transport planner from the Region Östergötland (regional authorities in the Swedish public administrative system are responsible for e.g. public transport as well as the coordination of public health services).

What we now call The Norrköping Scenarios has been developed in the series of workshops under the banner of explorative scenarios where uncertain and external future development factors are taken into account. The workshop exercises relied heavily on co-design of scenario content and joint reflections based on the results produced from the exercises. Even the process plan for the workshops itself was co-designed with the municipal officials.

We used a double-diamond approach (tweaked from the Design Council) to plan the workshops (see Figure 1) in order to, in the first phase explore and open up possible future lines and landscapes, then prune it down to a set of scenarios to be used for normative reflection and strategic lessons in the second phase.

Figure 1: The double-diamond approach to scenario development using the Design Council template, source: KTH TAP Project; Design Council 2005/2019.

The opening up phase during autumn of 2022 was particularly aimed at shaking loose presupposed or taken-for-granted lines of imagining possible near- and longer-term futures. In order for the scenario development to afford as much of the actors’ realism as possible while at the same time provoking or teasing out un-foreseen developments or impacts.

The scenarios are primed to grasp and highlight factors and variables, events and processes for the development of TAS in the municipality, including urban, peri-urban and rural areas, until/at 2045 with the overarching question ‘How will accessibility develop in Norrköping?’

The explorative scenarios, then, were developed using a scenario cross as a tool to capture and articulate contrasting scenes: the vertical axis in the cross notes degree of resources availability – scarcity at the top and abundance at the bottom; the horizontal axis moves from the left-hand side with a high degree of technological innovation with status-quo/retained everyday lifestyles (i.e. ecological modernization) and a small interest for planning control, to the right hand side with ahigh degree of transport efficient and sustainable structures and lifestyles and an overall big interest in planning control (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: The four scenario macro-conditions, in Swedish, source: KTH TAP Project.

The choice of these two main dimensions in the scenario cross was made after an initial mapping of external ‘macro-variables’ and variables that concern aspects of the triple access system, and an estimation of the level of uncertainty and local importance for each variable. The degree of resource availability and degree of technological innovation were deemed as the variables most uncertain and the most important regarding their local influence.

On towards normative scenarios

Now, early 2023, we are closing down the first diamond. So far, three half-day workshops has been organized with participants form Norrköping municipality´s planning office and one representative from the Regional Administration (see Figure 3). Together we have developed and elaborated the four scenarios based on the produced results from the three first workshops. We are at the moment teasing out their accessibility characteristics.

Figure 3: Planners exploring TAP in scenario development, photo: Jonas Bylund.

Two more explorative workshops are planned to develop the resulting four explorative scenarios. At the these workshops we plan to first work with causal relationships between factors in each quadrant of the scenario cross (a kind of simplified CLD-exercise focusing on one causal chain at a time, rather than the whole system) to help participants identify synergies and other relationships between variables, under the specific circumstances for each scenario.

At the last of the explorative  workshops, qualitative narratives for each scenario will be drafted. After which, in the spring 2023, we will workshop how the scenarios are useful to stress-test the current SUM and comprehensive planning strategies and visions.