Promoting Transport-Related Physical Activity through Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans: A Case Study on Copenhagen

Carla Louise Gühring

Student thesis: Master thesis


Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) are a new planning approach introduced by the European Commission. The driving idea behind the approach is to improve the accessibility of urban spaces by providing sustainable mobility and transportation in the urban areas. Cycling and walking are sustainable means of transport, which also address physical inactivity, a leading health hazard in the 21st century. Thus, SUMPs offer the opportunity to induce infrastructural changes and policy measures to reduce emissions as well as to increase the level of physical activity in the population. Customized and designed policy measures and infrastructural changes are integrated in SUMPs that aim at changing the people’s travel behaviour. The research highlights the importance of understanding human behaviour, which should serve as a basis to ensure the long-term success of policies. This thesis provides a conceptual framework to assess how the SUMP approach can eventually help to increase the level of physical activity. The following analysis is based on theoretical considerations but partially also provides initial exploratory and empirical findings to understand the challenges of SUMPs and the causality of behavioural insights and physical activity. To visualize the concept, Copenhagen was selected as a case study. The City has the vision of becoming the best bicycle city in the world and introduced a SUMP in 2013, in which a number of policy measures are apparently already taking into account behavioural insights. Society-level, city-level, route-level and individual-oriented policy measures make use of concepts as choice architecture, nudges and social motivation. Relating behavioural changes to policy measures is complex, as policy strategies are usually multifaceted, but a number of behavioural insights have already been made use of in urban and mobility planning.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages104
SupervisorsLucia A. Reisch