An urban mobility revolution

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When it comes to the traffic congestion and air pollution assaulting large cities, the status quo has become untenable. “These issues are everywhere,” states Europcar Mobility Group CEO Caroline Parot, “the roads won’t be able to accommodate many more vehicles.”

Planning for the mobility of tomorrow is crucial, especially given that 70% of CO2 emissions come from urban areas. “It’s in the cities that we have to lead the fight against global warming,” underscores Mauricio Rodas, Quito, Ecuador’s former mayor. More than ever before, we need to design urban mobility beyond the private single occupant vehicle. But how?

 

The role of public authorities

With a population density of nearly 8,000 people per square kilometre, Singapore has been fighting pollution and traffic problems for decades now. To tackle these issues, the Asian city-state has adapted by offering alternatives to personal vehicles and has taken measures to formulate transit planning for the short and medium terms (10 to 30 years), all without stifling innovation.

A solid holistic vision of urban transport is of paramount importance, and it is crucial that such a vision be backed by public authorities — not de facto entrusted to tech giants like Uber, Google or Tesla, believes Nat Parker, CEO of REACHNOW, the parent company of Car2Go’s ridesharing service. Local authorities must “set the standards for the transport data collection,” he states.

 

Straightforward regulation

In order to “simplify private sector participation” in the mobility revolution, it is urgent that we establish a clear regulatory framework, recommends Rodas. According to Transport for London’s Michael Hurwitz, authorities must then “be ready to make decisions on things that were never tested,” such as when older solutions become obsolete.

For Hurwitz, the man in charge of Innovation for London’s public transit system, success lies in deploying “little projects” which, depending on the results, can be dropped, redirected or generalized — it’s all about agility. According to Parker, there must also be significant “political courage” powering this revolution, and we must “adopt a positive vision on what can be done in sustainable mobility.”

This article is based on the following conference given at the 2019 Movin’On Summit: “Rethinking Urban Mobility: Challenges and Opportunities” by Caroline Parot (Europcar), Wee Shann Lam (LTA Singapore), Michael Hurwitz (Transport for London), Nat Parker (ReachNow), Mauricio Rodas (City of Quito), Steve Dunlop (Scottish Enterprise), Mary Crass (OCDE).