Equating mobility with building more roads nurtured a tendency towards increased motorisation, reinforcing an ever-increasing inclination to expand the road network. The result was a range of unintended adverse environmental, social and economic consequences. Most of these are rooted in the high priority given to private vehicles.
What are the opportunities to change?
The various strategies to move our cities in the right direction can be grouped into four broad categories: avoid, shift, share, and improve. Major policy, behaviour and technology changes are required to make these strategies work.
Avoid strategies aim to slow the growth of travel. They include initiatives to reduce trip lengths, such as high-density and mixed land use developments. Other options decrease private vehicle travel – for example, through car/ride sharing and congestion pricing. And teleworking and e-commerce help people avoid private car trips altogether.
Share strategies affect car ownership. New sharing economy businesses are already moving people, goods and services. Shared mobility, rather than car ownership, is providing city dwellers with a real alternative.
This trend is likely to continue and will pose significant challenges to car ownership models.
Uber claims that its carpooling service in Mumbai saved 936,000 litres of fuel and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2,662 metric tonnes within one year. It also reports that UberPool in London achieved a reduction of more than 1.1 million driving kilometres in just six months.
UberPool is available in inner Melbourne suburbs. Trip must begin and end in this area.Uber
Our research shows that sharing 80% of autonomous vehicles will reduce net emissions by up to 20%. The benefits increase with wider adoption of autonomous shared electric vehicles.
Autonomous vehicles can offer first- and last-kilometre solutions, especially in outer suburbs with limited public transport services.Monopoly919/Shutterstock
The urgency and benefits of steering our cities towards a path of low-carbon mobility are unmistakable. This was recognised in the past but progress has been slow. Today, the changing context for how we build future cities – smart, healthy and low-carbon – presents new opportunities.
If well planned and implemented, these four interventions will collectively achieve transport emission reduction targets. They will also improve access to the jobs and opportunities that are preconditions for sound economic development in cities around the world.