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Drove by her Vision 2040 “A Stockholm for everyone”, the Swedish capital identified multiple targets to be able to deal with the various challenges faced by dense urban areas. With a growing population of 1.6 million people, which should see an increase of 25% by the year 2030, the city has designed several programs and plans of actions, notably to ensure that Stockholm will become a so-called “Walkable city”. An ambition that also belongs to the assessment that “Stockholmers need to be more physically active” as mentioned in the City’s Sport policy programme.

Following firstly the guidelines of the Vision 2030 and now of the expanded Vision 2040, the Stockholm’s City Council elaborated an Urban Mobility Strategy (UMS) which includes a Pedestrian and a Bicycle plan. Indeed, mobility within the city has been identified as a main priority “to promote a more efficient, safe, attractive, environmentally friendly and healthy Stockholm” according to the UMS. In this regard, the foreseen objective is to provide each resident of Stockholm with the opportunity to access workplaces, schools, services and leisure activities by foot or bicycle. This idea belongs to the concept of a “Walkable city” which emphasises that rather than enhance solely mobility, the city must consider accessibility as the top priority for its UMS.

Therefore, Stockholm promoted specific plans of actions with key measures to reach the objectives of enhancing sustainable and active mobility while achieving the overall priority of proximity of schools, workplace, leisure activities … for Stockholmers. To this effect, the Pedestrian Plan was established to design a more pedestrian-friendly city but also highlights the health benefits (physical and mental) of walking at both individual and collective levels (streets being identified as spaces for social interactions). By 2030, one of its objectives is to have “at least 60% of the local journeys in the inner centre made by foot”. This goal meets with the guiding lines defined by the Stockholm’s sport policy program[1] which remind the need for everyone to remain physically active. As its overall objective is “to provide every resident and visitor with the opportunity, the desire, the know-how and the courage to walk”, the Pedestrian Plan contains 10 concrete actions to be implemented in Stockholm. For instance, action number two aims at improving recreational thoroughfare.

As mentioned in the Stockholm’s Cycling Plan, the city invested over 2 million Swedish kroner (nearly 1.8 million euros) in the past years for cycling infrastructure. Stockholm’s City Council justifies this investment notably by explaining that cycling allows for health promotion. Indeed, it highlights that “cycling can contribute to individual well-being and better public health” as it permits to fight against physical inactivity and several related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, several actions areas have been elaborated to enhance and improve opportunities to move on bicycle within the city. Finally, the city of Stockholm, with the support of the company Inurba Mobility, has implemented a new system of shared e-bikes. A collaboration with the purpose of offering means of soft mobility for everyone.

[1] The Stockholm’s sport policy program is not accessible directly in English. It can be translated thanks to Google translate though. Find the link to the Swedish version, thereafter: https://start.stockholm/globalassets/start/om-stockholms-stad/politik-och-demokrati/styrdokument/idrottspolitiskt-program-for-stockholms-stad-2018-2022.pdf

More than developing bicycle and pedestrian paths to increase Stockholmers activity and deal with the density of the urban area, the City Council is also attached to propose to its inhabitants “a wide range of sport, cultural and leisure activities” according to the Vision 2040.

First, Stockholm, as a Swedish city, is part of a national network[1] that catalogues various leisure activities accessible for all. Indeed, those activities are proposed to people with disabilities as well as the elderly. Thus, while promoting physical activity through leisure, the city of Stockholm works towards a more inclusive model.

Moreover, in several districts of the city, the municipality organises walk and bicycle activities for the seniors[2] on a weekly basis. For instance, each Tuesday, a bike ride is set at 11:00 am for any senior who dares to join. The rides can be adapted to the capacities and physical conditions of each participant and therefore extend the inclusiveness of the activity and allow to attract a wider audience. Besides, walking and cycling enables the elderly to practice physical activity, which benefits their health, and to have social interactions.

Leisure activities are designed for the youth too. Indeed, the city of Stockholm organises sports camp[3] for groups of 8-10 years old and of 11-13 years old. Those camps are the opportunity for children to discover a new physical activity while enjoying sports with people of their age. The city also has a lot of recreational parks which strive to enhance physical activity among the youth.

This shines the light on the fact that the city has developed activities for specific target groups. Through leisure activities she includes every citizen, from the youth to the elderly, and try to enhance their motivation and participation into physical activities.

[1] Leisure for All network:  https://fritidsnatet.se/hitta-fritidsaktiviteter/?region=stockholms-stad&sort=top-rated

[2] A calendar is available on the City of Stockholm website: https://senior.stockholm/aktuellt/kalendarium/2023/04/cykeltur/

[3] https://ung.stockholm/skarpnack-sportscamp/

Physical education and being physically active is a true concern in Stockholm schools. Firstly, it must be said that in Sweden, physical education is mandatory through primary and secondary school. In Stockholm, the sport policy program aims to ensure that Stockholmers remain physically active. It has established in this regard priority groups including children and young people.

Thanks to several studies, the city has been able to acknowledge that young boys and girls are less physically active than they should be, especially when they are at schools, sitting all day. In his Sport’s policy programme the City Council therefore emphasises the need to promote physical activity among the youth, also recognising the specific focus that should be put on getting girls, and notably girls with a foreign background, active. This programme also targets specific recommendations aiming to improve the commitment and the opportunities in physical activity among young boys and girls. For instance, it is mentioned that “the Sports committee must offer swimming lessons for schools and the general public in the city’s swimming pool”. This to highlight the willingness of Stockholm’s sport administration to make sport infrastructures more accessible and therefore to provide incentives for schools to organise more sport activities.

On the topic of being active in the workplace, Stockholm is encouraging workers to come to work either by foot or by bicycle.

According to the Sweden Physical Activity Factsheet, released by the European Commission, workplace incentives such as a tax relief or a reimbursement are permitted for employees, funded by employers, to encourage them to engage in certain physical activities. In this regard, every employee of the Stockholm University is entitled to a wellness benefit[1]. The latter enables the employees to spend a time during their week to take care of their well-being. The wellness benefit can be used for healthcare, physical exercise but also for “coffee, fruit and other simple consumption in connection with work[2]” according to the Swedish Tax Agency’s rules. Hence, employees of the Stockholm University are given incentives to practice a physical activity.

Besides, since January 1st, 2022, Swedish employers are eligible to a bicycle benefit[3], tax-free, if they provide to each of their employees a bicycle. This is an incentive for employers to enhance the well-being of their employees with no financial costs. It encourages the latter to come to work by bicycle and therefore plays a big role in the city’s efforts to reduce cars traffic flow and to increase the workplace proximity.

[1] https://www.su.se/staff/personnel/working-environment-equal-terms/wellness/wellness-and-wellness-benefit-1.537414#:~:text=Upon%20presentation%20of%20an%20original,the%20Swedish%20Tax%20Agency’s%20rules.

[2] Swedish Tax Agency’s rules on the use of the wellness benefit https://skatteverket.se/privat/skatter/arbeteochinkomst/formaner/personalvardmotionochfriskvard.4.7459477810df5bccdd4800014540.html

[3] Swedish Tax Agency’s prerequisites to receive a bicycle benefit https://skatteverket.se/privat/skatter/arbeteochinkomst/formaner/cykelforman.4.46ae6b26141980f1e2d466e.html

Stockholm, an example of Active Governance

For the past ten years, Stockholm’s City Council distinguished himself as a model of active governance. It adopted and implemented several plans to deal with the challenges of soft mobility and active lifestyle. Driven by the concept of the “Walkable City”, the Swedish capital has led the way to offer greater opportunities and to encourage Stockholmer’s to practice a physical activity. More importantly, the City Council has been looking out to promote inclusivity and diversity among its active governance strategy. The example of Stockholm proves that our modern cities have the potential to be re-designed and to be tailored to the needs of being physically active. Those changes contribute to improve inhabitants’ health but also to tackle environmental and traffic issues which consist in big problematics for dense urban areas nowadays.

Further resources:

  • Fahlén., Josef, Stenling., Cecilia, (2015), Sport policy in Sweden, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, , DOI: 10.1080/19406940.2015.1063530
  • , Christina, (2017), Implementation of Stockholm’s First Pedestrian Plan, Journal of Transport & Health, volume 7, pp. 34-35


  • City of Stockholm, Stockholm City Plan, 2018,



  • City of Stockholm, Pedestrian Plan, 2016


  • City of Stockholm, Vision 2040. A Stockholm for Everyone, October 2015


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