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EU Urban Mobility Observatory

Plans de déplacements urbains (PDUs), a French kind of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), have been in existence for 32 years in France. They were created by the 1982 domestic transport orientation law (loi d’orientation des transports intérieurs - LOTI), but have really developed since the 1996 air quality law (LAURE), which made them compulsory in urban areas of over 100 000 inhabitants [1].

Several laws improved both the content and process of the PDU in France, until the recent 2014 urban planning law (ALUR). Thus PDUs can be considered as an ‘almost-SUMP’ since 1996. The evolution of French legislation on PDUs and exhaustive list of objectives is available in English on the Cerema website.

Since 2000, and the law on urban renewal and solidarity, PDUs have been closely linked to other planning documents, the regional integrated development plans (Schéma de cohérence territorial - SCoT) and local urban development plans (Plan local d’urbanisme - PLU):

Since 2010, local authorities have the possibility to merge their local urban development plan (PLU) with their PDU into a PLUi-D.

Sixty-six obligatory PDUs (and PLUi-D) are now in place in France, and ten more are in their first phases. Thirty voluntary PDUs or PLUi-D are also being implemented, while 14 more are under development. Finally, 48 other planning documents (not legally defined) are either in place (35) or under development (13) in small- and medium-sized cities. The PLUi-U is now gaining momentum, with 27 plans - compulsory or voluntary - under development, either as a first plan (6) or as an up-date of a previous mobility plan (21).

Altogether, around 160 transport authorities are either implementing or developing an urban mobility plan. The full database is available on the Cerema website.

Thirty years after their creation, PDUs have demonstrated their effectiveness to help influence inhabitants’ mobility: car-use in major urban centres has decreased, while public transport and the development of active modes has increased. However, problems of implementation remain, particularly due to the complexity of integrating the PDU into the hierarchy of planning documents, the multiplicity of stakeholders involved in governance and the need for co-operation between transport authorities beyond the scope of application of the PDU. So the PDU today faces many challenges which it must take up if it is to strengthen its contribution to the integration of urban and transport policies, and more generally to an improved quality of life in French cities.

[1] 61 urban areas > 100 000 inhabitants covering 95 urban transport authorities (usually group of municipalites)

Member state contact

Ministry of Energy, Sustainable Development and Energy


Plan de déplacements urbains (PDUs) are legally defined in the transport code (articles L. 1214-1 to L. 1214-37) by these different characteristics:

1. Objectives and legal weight

  • Four general objectives and seven thematic objectives;
  • Compatibility with other planning documents;
  • Evaluation five years after approval.

2. Process of elaboration and revision

  • Transport authority responsible for the elaboration and other stakeholders to involve;
  • Public participation and official notice of stakeholders;
  • Final approval;
  • Conditions of revision.

Detailed information on legal aspects and case law of PDU are available in the Guide juridique pour l’élaboration des PDU, published by Certu in 2013 (only available in French).

Guidance on PDU is available on different aspects of both the SUMP process and themes. General information or assessment reports are also available, published mainly by Certu (merged with other public centres in 2014 to become Cerema) but also the Gart (Group of transport authorities):

1. General guides

2. Guidance or state of the art on PDU process

3. Guidance or state of the art on PDU themes

4. Factsheets or assessment reports

5. National supporting institutions:

  • Cerema (Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility, and Urban and Country planning)
  • Gart (Group of transport authorities)
  • Agir (Association for independent public transport)
  • CNFPT (National centre for local authorities)
  • DDT/DREAL (local state administration, at the level of ‘départements’ and regions)

Author: Durlin Thomas


Last updated: 02 October 2019