Sustainable innovations: Overcoming trust issues


Changing the mobility ecosystem requires a resource that isn’t always easy to access: the public’s trust. Three mobility experts from around the world share how they’re getting citizens used to sustainable innovation.


LISBON: Build it and they will come

In Portugal’s capital city, Deputy Mayor for Mobility and Safety, Miguel Gaspar, prioritizes changing the makeup of the urban landscape — even if the process is gradual and locals require convincing. Over the past decade, Lisbon has been reducing the amount of public space devoted to cars from 70% down to 40%, with the remaining 30% transformed into cycle paths and wider sidewalks. “It was very common to hear comments from the opposition, ‘No one will use it,’” says Gaspar. “But when it opened, after two weeks, it was full of people… It has a huge impact on how people use the city.”


SAN FRANCISCO: Go beyond the basics

“We really wanted to focus on the user,” explains San Francisco’s Office of Innovation Innovation Strategist Danielle Harris of the area’s dramatic expansion of its bicycle network, including creating advanced stop lanes, protected lanes and boosting bike sharing programs. “To not only say: ‘Does the bike infrastructure exist?’ but ‘What is the experience of the cyclist?’” One result of extensive analysis is the creation of SFMTA’s Bicycle Network Comfort Index, which predicts the level of “traffic stress” for different routes based on inputs including speed limits, transit routes and the number of lanes.


MONTREAL: Reframe the debate

Societé de Transport de Montreal’s President of the Administrative Council, Philippe Schnobb, is awaiting an addition to Montreal’s mobility landscape: e-scooters and e-bikes. To prepare, he says he had to reassure existing players that these newcomers were not a threat to their business model — a challenge he knows well from the 2009 launch of the city’s Bixi bike sharing program. Schnobb says it’s a matter of bringing concerned parties together (taxi drivers, carsharing services), and of asking them to look beyond the bottom line: “Instead of seeing new players as competitors, we have to see them as partners in sustainable mobility.” A helpful development: Montreal is in the process of building a platform called “Céleste” — where customers can switch from one mobility mode to another and pay for everything at the end of the month.


The voice of reason

«Data is at the heart of new mobility»
– Clément Eulry, Google France

At the heart of that data is trust — between users, who consent to sharing information in exchange for a more customized experience (e.g. Google Maps), and between companies who have access to data (e.g. car manufacturers and app makers) and can share it with one another to optimize user experience. But Eulry notes that trust can begin with something even more simple: a voice. “With vocal assistance, which is definitely the future, every company can think: ‘What is the personality I want to give to my personal assistant? The voice; the tone? Because it is basically the personality of my brand.’ To win in tomorrow’s world, especially in mobility, building the link between the brand and the consumer is one of the most important things.”

This article is based on the following conference given at the 2019 Movin’On Summit: “Solutions for multimodal ecosystems” by Miguel Gaspar (Municipality of Lisbon), Philippe Schnobb (STM Montreal), Danielle Harris (City of San Francisco), Sandra Sucher (Harvard Business School), Clément Eulry (Google France), Erik Novak (