Cities and Their Role in the Evolution of Mobility

This post highlights the mobility landscape in different city archetypes, and summarizes the findings from McKinsey & Company’s study found here.

Mobility is changing. How people get from A to B is looking different than it did just 5 years ago. With technology developing at a staggering pace, mobility has benefited from much-needed improvements. For example, you can now hail a taxi through an app and not have to wait in queue on the phone. Similarly, planning a transit route is easier with developers using open APIs to visualize the best route to take. With the growth of new mobility options like carshares and autonomous vehicles as well, what does this mean for cities who need to adopt to these mobility changes, or for the end user? What will be the “normal” way to get around?

If we go back to the basic definition of mobility, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the ability to move freely or be easily moved”. The dominant form of mobility that has become commonplace is the personal vehicle. As a result, cities have been built around the need for roads with less consideration for non-motorized forms of transportation like walking and biking. The consequence of that decision is congested streets and concerns that continued population growth will further the detriments of a city’s liveability.

Fortunately, cities are realizing the importance of managing transportation choices and adopting policies that discourage the use of personal vehicles. McKinsey & Company “reviewed the long-term transportation plans for more than 25 major cities, [and] believe there is a clear trend to create incentives that make public-transit, biking, and shared-transportation options more available and attractive.”

Cities play an important role in shaping people’s mobility decisions because of their influence on policies and urban design. Favourable policies that support on-street parking for carshares would reduce their operational costs and break down the barriers in scaling the service throughout a city. Ride-hailing services would benefit from policies structured to adopt new players in the mobility space. Similarly, cities that are built around shared public spaces, accessible public transportation, and urban density will support the growth of improved mobility options.

Even though cities influence the way people get around, industry players need to work with cities to fill unmet mobility needs; collaboration among public and private sectors is necessary to move mobility forward. Whether mobility takes the form of the sharing economy or remains focused on private-vehicles, governments need to be aware of where the future of mobility is heading, and plan for the impact it will have on cities.

Written by Amanda Lam, Marketing and Communications Specialist at INVERS. Building on her carsharing experience and strategic marketing knowledge, Amanda is responsible for building awareness on the future of mobility.

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