Transport and mobility within Urban Insight in the light of COP26

The sustainable mobility paradigm of Oxford researcher David Banister from 2008 is one of the most cited transport research papers; it presents four overarching strategies needed to address the urgent challenges for transport planning in the light of least not the climate crisis. None of these strategies are themselves enough to greatly reduce the climate impact of travel and transportation; they need to be combined to achieve large-enough effects. However, they effectively summarize which measures that are crucial in the effort of reaching a sustainable transport system. The findings and concepts presented in the Sweco Urban insight reports well cover what these four strategies could entail.

Reducing the need to travel—substitution

The sustainable mobility paradigm stipulates that the overall need for travel needs to reduce. For instance, the pandemic has shown and taught us to further substitute travel for online meetings, purchases and other activities from home. This raises the need for designing housing and living spaces where people can sojourn and thrive for both living, working and socialising. The Urban insight report Healthy buildings, cities and you presents several ways to design buildings and their immediate surroundings for increased mental and physical health.

Transport policy measures—modal shift

Future travel in cities and regions will need to be much more reliant on walking, cycling, public transport and other shared mobility options. The benefits and challenges of achieving a transport system built around active travel are expanded in the Urban Insight reports Which way now? as well as Urban mobility on a human scale. Features and best practice examples of successful public transport combined with Mobility-as-a-service (Maas) is the theme of the report Transport revolution.

Shared speed and proximity in a city

Shared speed and proximity in a city, illustration by Tom Uttendaele, Sweco.

Land-use policy measures—distance reduction

The sustainable mobility paradigm stresses the need of combining transport and urban planning strategies – travel distances need to be reduced and more trips need to be done through walking, cycling or travelling together. A 15-minute city scheme including shared speed levels and planning and design for proximity offers one such combination where transport planners and urban designers work jointly to increase accessibility without increasing travel distances. The Urban Insight report Which way now forward? offers rationales and solutions for such a combined scheme. One of its main messages is to plan for proximity of urban amenities and services together with a mobility concept which facilitates a variation of clean modes to reach a destination within a reasonable time.

Technological innovation—efficiency increase

Lastly, existing and future vehicles need to be more energy-efficient and driven by fossil-free fuels. In light of this goal, electro-mobility has risen highest on the agenda of politicians and city planners. How far has Europe come when it comes to e-mobility? And how does infrastructure differ between countries? In the Urban Insight report E-imagine a journey through Europe the authors set out on an imagined journey across Europe in an electric vehicle (EV) to provide insight into the state of existing electric mobility infrastructure.

Map of road trip

Author David Lindelöw

David Lindelöw is a transport planner at Sweco in Gothenburg, Sweden. He holds a PhD in Transport Planning from Lund University. His thesis concerned pedestrian planning in urban areas. Since joining Sweco in 2016, David has been working with walkability, urban planning and the connection between land use and travel behaviour. David is interested in how active travel can become a natural part of the urban realm and everyday life.