Happy New Year . . . and BTW what is this “New Mobility Agenda” all about?

uk-traffic light tree-smallTo kick off the New Year, it would seem like a good idea for us to remind our readers and contributors (and ourselves) of what we think this phrase means. This is important here since these three words are at the core of what World Streets is all about, as well as the main meat of our in-process  collaborative book for 2013, No Excuses, Sir!  (A tale of cities, indolence, complexity and, finally, simplicity).

This phrase, which has been around since 1988, has two main facets.  First it encompasses  a wide range of transportation service, access arrangements and public policy practices, new mobility in short.  Second, comes the Agenda part, basically the manner in which we build an integrated multi-part strategy which will enable our cities to move toward a much broader and more efficient range of mobility and access alternatives.  Let’s start with the service end of things.

Old Mobility

But before we dig into new mobility, let’s take a moment to review quickly what the other thing, “old mobility” is all about.

It’s simple. The sole of the unnamed but no less real  Old Mobility Agenda was to have a structured, ambitious, highly costly and often highly destructive in human and social  terms for all that relates to motorized transport, the golden-haired poster child of the twentieth century.

uk-bus-queueBeyond this, but at a far lower level of cost and structured attention has been traditional public transport, which with a few notable exceptions boils down in most places to — sorry! —  poor folks transport (i.e., something along the lines of minimum mobility for all those who are not able to own and operate their own cars).

And even in places that have over the last three decades  spent billions to create fixed-route scheduled services, when it comes to public spending public transport has remained the very poor cousin of the car-oriented policy and investment practices of most city and national governments.

New Mobility = Transport/Mobility/Access/Presence

Now that we have that clear, on to New Mobility which offers a much broader range of movement, access and strategic alternatives.  Let’s get started with . . .

1. Public/Transport —  This broad and most familiar category not only includes the full range of the usual urban rail and bus systems, in their centuries-old fixed-route, scheduled variants, but also an increasing number of more time and space dynamic service types which are being pioneered and increasingly brought into service in more innovative cities.

2. Active/Transport — which for the most part boils down to more structured and effective ways to support and enable better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. The ugly ducklings of 20th century transportation policy and practice.

3. Share/Transport — This covers a very broad range of alternative (to own-car) mobility arrangements. Among them, new ways to own and operate motor vehicles: carsharing, ridesharing, fleet-sharing, truck/van sharing, combined delivery services, and taxi-sharing in all its many variants.  But also bicycle-sharing, as well as a range of small bus systems, paratransit,  and, of course, Demand Responsive Transport.

4. Shared/Space: The broad range  of better uses of scarce urban space: for moving vehicles, dead vehicles (aka parking) and a range of human uses (social space). Space policies and strategies include not only once off and forever restrictions, but also more strategic and flexile attitudes toward time, speed, enforcement and laws and practices when it comes to misuse of these would-be shared spaces.

5. Mixed/Use: Though it may surprise this is also an important arm of a city’s new mobility policy, with the goal of proving a much broader range of quality services at the walkable/bikeable neighborhood level.

6. Tele/mobility: Basically the use of our hugely expanded electronic environment available to us in this new century to provide citizens with access to many things, without having to actually transport oneself.

7. New/Finance:  This perhaps less expected wing of our overall new mobility strategy and toolset includes both (a) greatly increased use of Value Capture mechanisms and practices whereby the public sector profits from at least a healthy part of the increase in value of property and activities that is in fact created  as a result of public financed transportation and related improvements.  And (b) new ways of financing and charging for public transport  and new mobility services.

With this, you now have before you what we think constitutes the seven main pillars of the brave new world of a well-working new mobility strategy.

The New Mobility Agenda


The goal of the New Mobility Agenda is no more nor less that to create a “better than car” mobility and access environment and range of affordable and convenient services and arrangements, which in their totality offer many more and far better choices for all.

The pattern of ownership and use of the private car and other motorized vehicles in the New Mobility Agenda is very different from what it was in the old days. Cars and trucks have their place in this new environment, but a very different place from that which they enjoyed in the twentieth century.

The main user groups for whom the Agenda is targeted are explicitly NOT the privileged class of  male car owner/drivers, as was essentially the case over the 20th century (earnest claims otherwise set aside), but (a) Women of all ages and conditions of life; (b) Children and especially for trips to school, play areas and social services; and (c) People of all ages with physical and other sensory handicaps. A transportation system designed to provide full, fair and safe service to these three key groups, offers better transport and better life quality in the city for all.

There you have it by way of quick introduction to where we intend to go over the course of the year ahead. This is not going to be an easy voyage, but it is going to be an interesting and important one.

So Happy New Year, get in and off we go!

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