What are cities’ needs when it comes to future urban mobility? To get answers to that question, we have met with city representatives from different cities in Europe and Northern America today at ITS Copenhagen for our very first city co-creation day. And we’ve learned quite a lot.
Cities are planning for a much lower modal split of the private car in the future.
In many cities around the globe, people still cover 30 to 50 percent of their ways by their own car. We call this the modal split. The cities we talked to are all eager to decrease the car’s relevance for urban mobility to a modal split way below 20 percent, to reduce congestion, parking space and emissions and thus, return cities to the people.
There will be more regulations that should deter people from private car ownership in cities.
In the coming years, we are likely to encounter increasingly more cities that will introduce new regulations to discourage using or buying your own car and incentivizes using mobility alternatives, such as the bike or public transportation. It is very likely that we will see more road usage restrictions, the introduction of more bike lanes and better bike infrastructure as well as parking restrictions and dynamic parking fees. Some cities are even thinking of introducing congestion charges.
Cities are having a hard time to combat the psychological barriers they are facing when wishing to change people’s mobility behavior.
When it comes to changing mobility, we are not facing technological barriers, but rather psychological ones. People are relying on their car because often today, it seems to be the best mobility choice for them. Cities need to think of how to incentivize new mobility behaviors, make other forms of mobility more attractive, discourage car usage, but also make people try out new mobility modes like biking, carsharing or ridesharing in addition to public transport.
Autonomous transportation per se doesn’t solve anything for cities.
Essentially, autonomous driving technology doesn’t per se solve the mobility problem within cities. However, as is true for new mobility companies, autonomous driving technology could decrease the cost of offering public transport solutions, and thus, also decrease the fare for users and incentivize new mobility modes. That said, to solve traffic and congestion problems, autonomous mobility needs to be shared. This way, the number of vehicles on the road can be decreased and road efficiency could be increased by reducing deadheads and the need to park.
It takes political leadership to change mobility.
Cities are experiencing, new transport and mobility regulations are rejected by many people, because it’s always hard to imagine an abstract future that is different from what one knows today and that would mean, that one will have to change one’s behavior. However, the example of Stockholm’s congestion charge showed that change often takes political courage and leadership and people will follow. When they had a vote on the introduction of a congestion charge in Stockholm before it’s introduction in 2006, people voted against it. After there was a trial period and when benefits became more tangible and visible, people in the end voted for it.
The barriers for an intermodal trip with multiple modes of transportation must decrease.
It will be critical to solve the first and the last mile problem, if cities want to strengthen the role of public transportation in urban mobility. The ways to achieve it are multiple and reach from better bike infrastructure to park & ride infrastructure for commuters from outside the city to ridesharing solutions to bring people to their station. In the long run, there needs to be one mobility platform for each city that allows access to multiple modes of transportation, instead of the fragmented approach we see in many cities today.