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The CLARS Platform: one year on

Many urban areas are battling bad air quality, noise and congestion while still trying to stay attractive to tourists and businesses. To address these issues some local authorities restrict the number of vehicles entering their cities through a number of access regulations.

If done right these regulations – for example, a congestion charge or a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) – are a key way to improve the quality of life in a city. If not, they annoy the public and stakeholders and don’t have the desired impact.

The EC-funded CLARS Platform, launched in April 2014, was created to provide support to authorities operating urban access regulations by showcasing best practice, sharing experience and knowledge.

‘If you are planning an urban road-charging scheme, you do not need to re-invent the wheel,’ said Lucy Sadler, the CLARS co-ordinator.

With members from 14 EU countries, as well as EU-wide organisations, CLARS works with city networks Polis (link is external) and EUROCITIES (link is external), and the European Platform on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (link is external). Membership is free and local authorities receive a periodic bulletin and can discuss access regulations with other city members.

Sadler - who has over 20 years experience in air quality, most notably as London’s Head of Air Quality - adds: ‘We have a wealth of information on already established schemes that will support cities in improving air quality and reducing congestion – helping towards the EU goal of no conventionally fuelled vehicles in cities by 2050.’

CLARS has developed a database that provides information for vehicle operators on nearly 270 LEZs and 14 urban road-charging schemes in Europe, as well as over 100 other access regulations.

Details on the access, weight, height, width and length restrictions for 8 000 towns and cities are available through a fully interactive GIS map. New data appears on the website every week.

‘Our multi-lingual website is the only resource of its kind,’ Sadler says. ‘It gives all the information that vehicle operators need in one place – whether on Rome’s ZTL, the London Lorry Control Scheme, or Budapest’s protected and restricted zones.

'It’ll tell you where these zones are, what vehicles can drive into them, if you need to register before entering and the cost.’

CLARS is also involved with the CIVITAS (link is external) initiative’s advisory group on access regulations and provided recommendations to the Commission. The EU is considering producing guidance for LEZs and urban road-charging. If realised, CLARS would provide a mechanism for informal consultation before its introduction.

‘It can take political courage to implement a larger scheme to improve a city,’ says Sadler. ‘This is easier to do when learning from others who have already implemented schemes.

'Our target for CLARS for the next 12 months is to support more European public authorities in the technical and political aspects of designing successful access regulation schemes.’

To become a member of CLARS Platform, or for more information, visit the CLARS Platform website.

Many urban areas are battling bad air quality, noise and congestion while still trying to stay attractive to tourists and businesses. To address these issues some local authorities restrict the number of vehicles entering their cities through a number of access regulations.

If done right these regulations – for example, a congestion charge or a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) – are a key way to improve the quality of life in a city. If not, they annoy the public and stakeholders and don’t have the desired impact.

The EC-funded CLARS Platform (link is external), launched in April 2014, was created to provide support to authorities operating urban access regulations by showcasing best practice, sharing experience and knowledge.

‘If you are planning an urban road-charging scheme, you do not need to re-invent the wheel,’ said Lucy Sadler, the CLARS co-ordinator.

With members from 14 EU countries, as well as EU-wide organisations, CLARS works with city networks Polis (link is external) and EUROCITIES (link is external), and the European Platform on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. Membership is free and local authorities receive a periodic bulletin and can discuss access regulations with other city members.

Sadler - who has over 20 years experience in air quality, most notably as London’s Head of Air Quality - adds: ‘We have a wealth of information on already established schemes that will support cities in improving air quality and reducing congestion – helping towards the EU goal of no conventionally fuelled vehicles in cities by 2050.’

CLARS has developed a database (link is external) that provides information for vehicle operators on nearly 270 LEZs and 14 urban road-charging schemes in Europe, as well as over 100 other access regulations.

Details on the access, weight, height, width and length restrictions for 8 000 towns and cities are available through a fully interactive GIS map. New data appears on the website every week.

‘Our multi-lingual website is the only resource of its kind,’ Sadler says. ‘It gives all the information that vehicle operators need in one place – whether on Rome’s ZTL, the London Lorry Control Scheme, or Budapest’s protected and restricted zones.

'It’ll tell you where these zones are, what vehicles can drive into them, if you need to register before entering and the cost.’

CLARS is also involved with the CIVITAS (link is external) initiative’s advisory group on access regulations and provided recommendations to the Commission. The EU is considering producing guidance for LEZs and urban road-charging. If realised, CLARS would provide a mechanism for informal consultation before its introduction.

‘It can take political courage to implement a larger scheme to improve a city,’ says Sadler. ‘This is easier to do when learning from others who have already implemented schemes.

'Our target for CLARS for the next 12 months is to support more European public authorities in the technical and political aspects of designing successful access regulation schemes.’

To become a member of CLARS Platform, or for more information, visit the CLARS Platform website (link is external).

- See more at: http://www.eltis.org/discover/news/clars-platform-one-year#sthash.RILmYILY.dpuf

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