An additional 2.5 billion people will live in cities by 2050. This entails an increase in the movement of not only passengers but also goods. The demand for mobility will be higher than it ever was. Cities and mobility partners must begin rethinking mobility as early as now to accommodate this surge. Collaboration plays a huge role.
The gradual shift of residence from rural to urban areas is expected to add 2.5 billion more people in cities, according to the projections of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The Department elaborates that the urban shift will be concentrated in Asia and Africa. Three countries — India, China, and Nigeria — will account for 35% of this projected growth. In these areas, in particular, ensuring the smooth navigation of people and goods is of great importance.
In the past, cities and mobility planners had been focusing on how private car usage and free parking policies can be optimized. It has since shifted to viewing communities from a systems perspective — stepping back and looking at the bigger picture of the dynamics of city movement instead of zeroing in on specific aspects in a siloed view.
When we say the bigger picture, it doesn’t only consider how smooth the flow of the roads is. Other factors like affordability, access, and emission impacts are also put into consideration in designs. Over the past years, the options for mobility have been growing rich in number. From micro-mobility solutions and transport services, the innovations that are popping out seem endless. People have embraced these changes quickly. This is a telltale sign that the old system of public transport is no longer working. It is time to review it and replace it with a refreshing take on mobility.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) laid down some guidelines in the future of city mobility in their white paper, Guidelines for City Mobility: Steering towards collaboration.
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Their recommendations can be summarized into eight key guidelines. All of these guidelines intend to amplify the cooperation between city and mobility partners which in turn will serve as building blocks of partnership agreements.
1. Data sharing
Data is a valuable asset in gaining insights on how to improve mobility. With this, cities and mobility partners should eliminate the compartmentalization of data. This can be done by anonymising the data before aggregating them for sharing. With an open data set for mobility, it will be easier to optimize operations. It will also promote transparency.
2. Public space usage and infrastructure impact
Mobility systems can easily take up a huge portion of the public space especially in densely populated areas. It is important for city planners to minimize the use of public space so that it can be either repurposed for other activities or reallocated to sustainable modes like cycling and walking.
When talking about safety in mobility, the physical aspect of it quickly comes to mind. Physical safety will always be a concern. However, against the backdrop of an increasingly digital world, cities should also consider strengthening their information safety.
4. Inclusion and equity
To enable safe and sustainable mobility services, cities should consult community leaders, residents, and service users. To ensure equity, an emphasis on hearing out the mobility needs of the marginalised is crucial.
5. Fair work
Those working to facilitate efficient and safe transport of goods and passengers should be given equitable and fair work opportunities. Fair labour practices should also be set in place. Necessary reskilling and training to ensure transport workers can carry out their responsibilities must also be implemented.
6. Shared mobility and pooling
One way to lower the public space used for mobility is to increase efficient shared mobility and pooling for passengers, since this will lower the number of single occupancy-private vehicles. Co-loading of goods across all modes is another, since this will pull down the volume of less-than-full freight vehicles.
7. Clean transition
As mentioned, more than just ensuring the efficiency of transport, a systems approach to mobility considers environmental impact as well. Cities and mobility partners should work towards zero-emissions fleets for both the private and public sector.
8. Multi-modal integration
Lastly, the integration of multiple modes of transport to expand mobility coverage and reduce the demand for single-occupancy vehicles must also be maximized by generating mobility-as-a-service solutions.