Sustainable urban mobility


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Sustainable urban mobility – Improving cities for cyclists and pedestrians

After several decades of underestimating the potential of walking and cycling in cities, the value of these transport modes is gaining recognition. However, city planners and decision makers face challenges in working to improve conditions for city walking and cycling.

Bicycle use in particular is developing rapidly thanks to new technology: modern bike sharing systems ensure better availability, electric bikes (e-bikes) extend the radius of action, and more and more bicycle varieties such as cargo bikes are available to meet cyclists' needs. Pedestrians also have better facilities and helpful aids such as smartphone apps and maps.

The Urban Insight report "Urban Mobility on a Human Scale – Promoting and Facilitating Active Travel in Cities" explores how we can further facilitate and promote walking and cycling in our urban areas.

 

Many benefits of active human mobility

There is much to be gained from improving the situation for cycling and walking in our cities:

  • Compared to car infrastructure, including streets and parking, active travel improves the traffic flow efficiency. It also requires much less space, which is an important aspect in all urban environments with limited space and high mobility requirements.
  • The physical exercise associated with active travel is part of a healthy lifestyle. This is illustrated, for example, by the "active travel concept" in the UK, which emphasizes this aspect.
  • The transport systems' carbon footprint is reduced, as is other pollutants that negatively affect both environment and inhabitants.
  • An infrastructure designed around walking and cycling largely consists of accessible public space, which is well suited for a city's visitors and residents. As a consequence, additional liveable and sociable city areas are created.
  • The economic benefits of cycling and walking should not be underestimated. Strolling around and passing by shops increases the possibility for shopping, which is seen in cyclists' and pedestrians' substantial contributions to retail profitability.

The world's rapidly growing cities face many challenges when it comes to sustainability and liveability, which further highlight the benefits and importance of active human mobility. City planning will therefore benefit from a focus on promoting walking and cycling.

 

Cycling in European cities: A matter of ambition, not size

European cities have experienced substantial growth in recent decades. The Urban Insight report "Running to Stand Still – the Role of Travel Time in Transport Planning" clarifies that the size of a city is often closely related to the accessibility and speed of its main transport system.