Land Use Planning Today As an Instrument for Less Car Use 2030

Land Use Planning Today As an Instrument for Less Car Use 2030


Karin Brundell-Freij, WSP Analysis and Strategy, Sweden, Eva Ericsson, WSP Analysis and Strategy, Sweden, Håkan Johansson, Swedish Transport Administration


The paper focuses on urban planning and especially urban density as one of several measures to reach a transport efficient society that reaches the climate goals.


The transport sector faces big challenges in contributing to meet climate goals and expectations of the vehicles' technological development and the development of alternative fuels and transport concepts are large. Several studies, concludes that the technological development on vehicles and fuels, can and must, contribute to a large extent to the goal but that this is not enough. To achieve the climate goal a change towards a more transport efficient society is needed. Generally a transport efficient society includes several means and measures in order to increase accessibility using walking, cycling and public transport in order to decrease the use of car.

The basis for this study is an assessment performed by the Swedish Transport Administration of how the Swedish transport system can be developed in order to contribute to the meeting of climate goals. The report presents a vision on how the climate goals can be met if combining technical development of vehicles and fuels with consistent planning of future land use and traffic system. The overall goal for the vision is that the CO2-emissions from the transport sector should decrease with 80% between 2010 and 2030. It was concluded that except for technical development the climate goal would require a decrease of car traffic by 40 % compared with the predicted levels for 2030 according to the business as usual scenario (BAU 2030). The report suggests a package of measures including quantified potential car reduction for each measure.

In three consecutive studies the results from the study of the Transport administration was concretized stepwise. In Study Ia back-casting analysis was performed in order to describe how car travelling have changed 2030 compared to 2010 in different types of regions, for trips of different length and for different purposes, if the package of measures had been implemented to its full potential. Study II was focused on measures intended for urban planning. It aimed at quantifying the demanded strength of each measure to be able to reduce car traffic according to the vision. Study III examine the comprehensive planning in five Swedish municipalities in terms of how they meet the need for actions in accordance with the previous studies. A workshop was held with representatives of the municipalities in order to understand the obstacles for implementing the measures to their full potential and what kind of support or incentives would be needed to overcome the obstacles.

The three studies grasp the concretization and quantification of a package of measures. The present paper focuses on one of the measures ie urban planning and especially urban density. The density of cities forms a structure that is an important pre-requisite for high accessibility with walking, cycling and public transport. According to the preconditions of the study urban density would need to increase to an extent that would decrease car traffic on a national level with 3% compared to BAU 2030. The aim was to investigate if such increase of density would be possible from a theoretical point of view (depending on current state, on-going trend and predictions of population until 2030) and in connection to available land in built-up areas on a general level. The analysis was performed based on a literature review on the relation between urban density and car traffic, investigations on previous, current and expected population and land use trends. Altogether this formed a framework for estimation how increased urban density in cities would affect future car traffic in Sweden. Further, on an overall level the study explores occurrence of “available” land i e impediments and former industrial land within urban areas that could be transformed to dwellings.

The study revealed an ongoing densification of Swedish cities and towns. This would, if the trend is sustained, partly suppress the foreseen growth in car traffic for 2030. However, to reach the postulated traffic reduction, persisting the present trend would not be enough. Further densification would be needed. If population growth until 2030 solely would happen within the borders of today’s built-up areas, 4 % less car traffic compared to BAU 2030 could be reached. Further, if dwellings would be localized closer to the city center than today car traffic, could decrease with additionally 1%. On an overall level the predicted population growth could be contained without using additional land outside today’s city borders. However, the realization would request strict planning of all new developments. In the workshop with municipalities the need for increased overall control measures aiming towards the climate goals was stressed.


Association for European Transport