The first edition of the Mobility Eco Forum on “The Future of Mobile Lives” invited scholars, practitioners, urban planners, policy makers and environmental NGOs, to reflect and design future scenarios for low carbon mobility in the European and Mediterranean cities. Three key topics were discussed by ten international speakers with the following conclusions.
Livable Cities: New Directions for Mobility Policies
Our society is organized around our capacity of fast and cheap movement to access instantly to various activities in a short time. In this regard, mobility policies must go beyond transport planning and embrace other issues like environment, work and urbanism, and other scales, such as metropolitan and regional ones. This holistic transformation must encourage a re-organization of lifestyles, both, professional and personal, into a transition to a sustainable mobility.
Proximity and wellbeing must guide mobility policies in the future to encourage sustainable lifestyles. A recent survey developed by Forum Vies Mobiles in 6 major countries about aspirations and lifestyles shows significative results where citizens desire to decelerate their lives and manifest their mobile habits for reducing the environmental impact. In this regard, people aspire for social proximity and healthy environments and policies must approach them.
Furthermore, the des-carbonization of transports also involves promoting those systems that are more energy efficient and socially inclusive, like public transport, electrical vehicles and active mobilities (walking, biking, etc). In today’s cities, air pollution, noise and sedentarism lifestyles are the main health problem of urban population, consequently the transition to de-carbonised cities involves to:
- Increase public spaces and green areas to encourage an active mobility based on biking and walking.
- Reduce daily commuting time, by connecting transport and urbanism planning to reduce time displacements for work and social activities.
- Phase out fossils fuels vehicles through taxation and restrictions, at local or national scales.
It involves re-thinking the economic (job location) and social activities (entertainments, etc.) to make them more accessible and less carbon intensive.
Shared Cities: New Mobilities vs Sustainable Transports
The public transport will continue to be the most relevant, continuous and inclusive in the cities. Autonomous and shared vehicles are useful if they are well integrated with the public transport system, improving overall mobility and reducing societal costs.
A paradigm shift is coming, from a property (ownership) economy towards an economy of access (services). It will impact the conception of the city in the future. We will have to integrate multiple source of information and data, on real-time, to facilitate these habits of sustainable mobility. This shift is particularly important in interurban environments, where the right information can encourage inter-modality that facilitates the professional and personal mobility with fewer environmental and social externalities.
Future Cities: Low carbon Scenarios
Peak oil and climate change are forcing society to transform its energy model. The adaptation to a low carbon city means to shift to decentralized and renewable energy sources. The electrical vehicles might offer an opportunity for clean transport but it will need a shift in the way we use and own them to reduce space occupation and solve the challenges of batteries production and electronic waste recycling.
This decarbonization path requires new urban systems and integrated mobility vision through the following leverages:
- Economic and political tools: taxation, regulation, incentives, education, etc.…Technology and information revolution: clean and efficient vehicles, data access, etc.
- Connection of Infrastructures: decentralized energy networks, roads, railways, cycling paths, etc.
- Local energy systems: renewable energy production, saving and use
- Spatial reorganization: compact, end of spread urbanism, mixed land uses, etc..
Post Car Cities
The cultural shift to post-car cities is one of the most difficult among societal changes. Citizens must be involved in policies debates and governments needs to promote sustainable lifestyles related with healthy habits of mobility.
We must make the low carbon mobility attractive for the people through education and awareness. While doing so, cities must provide friendly place for pedestrians and cyclers, and improve radically the accessibility of soft transports modes.
Promote walking in the city needs well designed public space, by taking it away from cars. Although, the use of private cars in cities can be allowed, if used in a smart way.
Barcelona Super blocks model is presented. This model creates smart grids, a strategy to redesign public space to incentivize smarter use of cars, lower emission areas, where public space is available for pedestrian and active mobile habits are encouraged.
Mobility Eco Forum (MEF) is an annual international conference aiming to reflect about sustainable urban mobility in Mediterranean and European cities. The 2017 forum on “The Future of Mobile Urban Life” was organized in partnership with Forum Vies Mobiles and CCCB, as well as with the support of the Barcelona council and the local Tram company.