The Mobility Centre for Africa held its 4th Future Mobility Roundtable earlier this month in Ekurhuleni, South Africa, once again bringing the growth industry of mobility into the spotlight. Among the things discussed there, in the home of OR Tambo airport, were smart airport cities, ride-sharing and innovative ways to provide mass transit systems like rails and hyperloop to get people moving better.
So far so good. But what do we need to discuss now? And what are the right ways to discuss these burning issues?
Here, we’ve rounded up some important questions to ask now for urban mobility, so you can impress everyone at your next transport and mobility conference…
How can we make it more attractive to walk and cycle to work?
Among the various mobility solutions that have been bandied about in the past decade, cycling seems arguably the most perfect solution: it encourages healthier citizens, produces no pollution or congestion and is faster than walking while still seeming to advocate a more wholesome, stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of commute.
But in order to get people on their bicycles, you need to make it a viable solution first. This includes dedicated pedestrian and bike lanes, bike rental options that are truly economically viable and available throughout densely populated areas of all major cities and more. Perhaps even more importantly, significant thinking and resources need to go into reimagining cycling in the public consciousness as aspirational, in a country where research has proven we love our cars.
What can we do to make our cities communities (and why it matters for mobility)
But what is even more important than all this is the simple problem that cities no one feels happy and safe in are never going to explode with mass use of new modes of transport, no matter how much infrastructure we throw at them. People afraid of crime will never cycle or walk to work, plain and simple. And so, arguably the most important aspect of urban mobility planning, albeit a less linear aspect, is making our cities communities.
What are we doing for our outlying and even rural areas?
Without focussing on less dense city centre-like areas, urban mobility and city planning soon comes back to the same problem again and again: the most populous areas become the most aspirational areas to live or work in (think the city bowl in Cape Town or Sandton) and with that, overcrowding becomes a problem sooner rather than later over and over again. With electric cars becoming a more viable solution every day, and driverless vehicles around the corner, its important that we focus on creating real value in staying in more outlying areas to avoid congestion in our city centres further down the road.
Are we relying on peak hour data too much?
You know what they say: if you look at things through the lens of a hammer, then everything’s a nail. As a great piece by CityLab points out, the way you look at traffic is at least as important as looking at it in the first place. Focusing only on the worst-case scenarios and heaviest peak hour traffic times of the day ensures a never-ending cycle of building more and more expensive infrastructure instead of a much cheaper and more effective solution: get your current infrastructure to work smarter. An amazing example? Check out what Stockholm did.
What do you think, GoMetropolitans? What burning questions are on your mind about urban mobility? Let us know, and have a great week.