Freedom through Mobility
Mobility is one of the most important prerequisites for successful economies and widespread social participation. However with the advent of new technologies, social innovations and megatrends, in the future individual urban movement will be influenced by an entirely different set of circumstances. Information and communication technologies, big data and self-driving cars will fundamentally alter future developments. In urban areas, high mobility (anticipated potential changes) combined with low traffic volumes (actual location changes) (1) would deliver significant environmental benefits. But for this to happen, cities must have a reliable, uncomplicated intermodal transport system that is cost-effective for all.
91% of Germans believe their quality of life would be better if they were no longer dependent on a car.*
*Umweltbundesamt (2017): Umweltbewusstsein in Deutschland 2016. Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Bevölkerungsumfrage. Umweltbundesamt, Dessau
Many companies now understand that the future lies in multimodal transport systems and have dedicated themselves to this area. In Berlin, sharing systems for cars and bikes are already part of the municipal network. Ongoing technical innovation has brought with it a new way of thinking, in which “using instead of owning” represents flexibility and freedom. While many people still use a single means of transport, such as their own car, bicycle or public transport, traveling in the future will likely involve a mixture of transport options. For example, a person might first ride their bike, then catch public transport and use a car or bike sharing service for the final kilometers of their journey. A whole variety of mobility services can be utilized without needing to own the means of transportation.
⅔ of regular car drivers could see themselves driving less in the future.*
* Umweltbundesamt (2017): Umweltbewusstsein in Deutschland 2016. Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Bevölkerungsumfrage. Umweltbundesamt, Dessau.
In a later stages of this development, the offerings of the various mobility service providers could amalgamate further. With the ongoing development of self-driving vehicles and expansion of GPS technology (which is already available in every smartphone), there is enormous potential for further progress.
But all this development is only worthwhile if it benefits us in some way and is not achieved at the expense of the environment. The public sector must take on a greater leadership role in this regard. In particular, sustainable mobility (walking and cycling) must be promoted through investments and forward-thinking urban development and public transport policies. Some cities are already taking decisive steps by clearly positioning themselves and actively pushing for change.
The Radbahn could be a pilot project for Berlin that is used to test intermodal transport systems for the rest of the city.