Other simple but highly effective interventions are the growing number of conventional bicycles that fold out into cargo bikes, such as the Convercycle and Cargo Node. They increase the number of use cases for bikes and dramatically cut the physical and carbon footprint of a journey that may well have otherwise been taken by car or taxi.
Developing a green public transport infrastructure to the point where it runs so smoothly and timely that cars and taxis are no longer desired should be another aim of city governments. Many are conducting trials in this area, such as Singapore’s trials of Volvo’s autonomous buses. But the real paradigm shift won’t come until we have integrated networks of autonomous public transport that are fuelled by live data from passengers, allowing for services to react, adapt and tailor themselves in real-time.
With all this talk of future vehicle typologies, we mustn’t forget the greenest, heathiest and least-congesting mobility solution of them all: walking. Paris is a leader in the pedestrianisation of cities, controversially transforming key arteries in the city centre into pedestrianised streets in a bid to cut air pollution. It’s also unveiled plans to turn the roads around the Eiffel Tower into a mile-long garden. Meanwhile, Quayside in Toronto, Google’s ‘smart city’, includes plans for a network of heated walkways and cycle paths, making walking and cycling the safest and more preferred modes of transport even in winter, when these types of journeys usually drop by 73%.
In my view, pedestrianisation will not only help to solve looming public health crises and over-densification woes, it makes business sense too. A recent visionary study in Auckland discovered that delays caused to pedestrians by traffic and road congestion can cost the city NZ$11.7 million (£6.1m, €6.9m, $7.8m) a year, leading the city to consider prioritising the pedestrian from an economical – as well as environmental – perspective.
Whatever lies ahead for future generations, we won’t do them any favours by designing mobility solutions that pander to their perceived habits and behavioural whims, rather than real-life and increasingly urgent scenarios. The sooner that governments, corporations, planners and designers act on this point, the better we’ll be able to make the towns and cities of the future.
Luke Miles is co-founder and creative director at New Territory, a design studio exploring new ways of living, working and moving.
For more ideas and innovations that will shape the future of the mobility sector through 2030 and beyond, explore LS:N Global's Mobility Far Futures series.
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