Involving users in the development of tomorrow’s mobility

Current challenges in the field of mobility

by Erzsébet Földesi, Budapest Association of Persons with Physical Disability

There is a clear intention from transport vehicle, infrastructure and service developers to build a sustainable transport system that meets the needs of all users in all modes of transport.

Around 80 million people live with disabilities in the European Union’s member states. This number is expected to increase to 120 million by 2020 due to the ageing population. The current transport system is, however, far from ensuring accessible, seamless and comfortable use for several users, e.g. passengers with permanent or temporarily reduced mobility, elderly people, people with small children or bicycles. To change this, it is necessary for researchers and developers to gather information on the diverse needs and abilities of potential passengers. Vehicles, infrastructure and services in transport should be created possibly without barriers which also highly reduces the need to eliminate barriers afterwards. How can that be reached?

Barriers are too often reduced as mitigation of already executed projects

Mainstream solution following universal design for the diverse users

The challenge is to develop mainstream solutions for diverse users’ needs that already include users with disabilities. Universal design means the design of products, environments, applications and services to be usable by all people regardless to their age size or abilities, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities ratified by all EU member states and the EU itself states also that

„Universal design shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.”

Thus by applying the method of universal design, transport developers and service providers respond to the diverse needs of passengers.

Good practices on co-operation between transport stakeholders

The Universal Design Information and Research Center (ETIKK) established by the Budapest Association of Persons with Physical Disability promotes universal design, its human rights aspects and economic and social advantages. ETIKK works together with the Budapest Transport Center to improve the public transport service. A multitude of other examples can be found around Europe.

Towards a more systematic users’ involvement

What are other good examples of cooperation between the stakeholders in the field of transport? Are disabled people’s needs taken into account in mainstream transport research, development and services in general? Is the method of universal design well considered by transport developers? Are we aware of the user-centered character of universal design? What are the benefits for researchers, developers and service providers from the cooperation of the diverse group of users? Do we need binding legislation to support mainstreaming disability following the application of universal design?

These issues are covered by the publication recently published by Springer on the Towards User-Centric Transport in Europe, Challenges, Solutions and Collaborations and be discussed at the afternoon session of the final event of the Mobility4EU project ‘#TUCTE18 — Enabling seamless and sustainable mobility for all.

  • Don’t miss the chance to meet the authors: participate to the event, places are running out.

Connecting stakeholders to discuss and advocate for user-centric approaches and cross-modal cooperation in transport of passsengers and freight.

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