National policies and municipal practices: A comparative study of Czech and Portuguese urban mobility plans
Previous research on sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs) emphasizes the essential role of guidelines published by the European Commission and of national policies in the processes of developing SUMPs. To provide a more in-depth insight into this topic, the present paper analyses the different approaches and assesses the level of consistency in applying the sustainable mobility principles contained within existing guidelines issued by the European Commission and by the Member States when preparing SUMPs. A comparative analysis was conducted on the mobility plans of the municipalities of Olomouc (Czech Republic) and Matosinhos (Portugal) and the role of the corresponding national guidelines. The results reveal that while these documents deal with the principles slightly differently, the guidelines embrace roughly the same main policies and strategies regarding mobility planning, surely as a result of the existing common learning environment on these matters within the EU. Further, the results indicate that it can be beneficial if the plans are allowed purposefully to deviate marginally from guidelines as long as the resulting SUMPs keep within common principles while only applying them in different ways. In this respect, the plan of the Portuguese municipality provides an interesting example since it widely applies the concept of accessibility and uses this concept as an instrument to set the main targets, even though this is not clearly portrayed in the corresponding guidelines. The paper contributes to the joint discussion of the role of such guidelines at the EU and national levels and to the possibility to introduce a balanced discretion on their practical application. Additionally, the findings are useful for enhancing the understanding of how the guidelines’ theoretical grounds are applied in planning practice.