For Urban Mobility Planning to be Sustainable, attention is paid to ensure that all relevant transport modes are given consideration, while encouraging more sustainable modes. Topics typically discussed in research and policy include public transport, safety, pollution reduction, road transport management, and parking. Below are some of the relevant trends/active areas within the context of SUMPS:
Shift to Public Transport
While private transportation is an attractive prospect to many, it undeniably has a negative net effect for various reasons such as poor energy efficiency per person, overutilisation of limited resources such as road space, and not to mention the crown-bearer> pollution. While players in the automobile industry such as Tesla are working hard to negate some of these factors, there is active research engaged in trying to make public transport more attractive as an option for all citizens. This transformation process is focussed on making transport safer and more accessible, by optimising access to vehicles, securing them, and by trying to improve interoperability between transport modes. If public transport has more of an attractive image and appeals to more people, then it will be used by more people. Perceptions of citizens are important!
An engaged Public Transportation system is highly beneficial because of multiple high value reasons and is especially suited for mobility in densely populated areas. For instance, a bus can transport as many people as 30 individual cars, while only occupying roadspace of just 3!
Infrastructure policies need to shift from being car-oriented to being public transport oriented. With walking & cycling, green public transportation, and shared vehicle-use taking the lead supported by ICT, cities can become less reliant on traditional and personal transport. Instead, city policy-makers can aim to increase accessibility and convenience for their residents and visitors alike, including rapid and safe mobility in times of emergency. This can be done with good urban design, behaviour change, advance technology, supportive policies, economic incentives, and city engagement and last but certainly not the least, leadership (source).
Encouraging the use of Bicycles and walking
Large scale attempts are being made to promote cycling across Europe. Afterall, it is estimated that half of all trips made in cities are of less than 5 kilometers. If Production, Maintenance, Operation and Fuel are all taken into account, cycling is the most greenhouse gas efficient transportation mode that exists, perhaps only seconded by walking (unless you eat a lot of beans).
Efforts are being made to turn cycling into a ‘trendy’ transportation mode from just a ‘sustainable’ one, where bike sharing is now being turned into a common form of mobility. In October 2015, Cycling was declared as a climate-friendly transport mode (yes, it took that long!).
Technology has found use for the purpose of removing common deterrents unconducive to cycling and/or walking, by attempting to increase safety and accessibility of infrastructure.
Pedelecs / EPACS
A pedelec is a bicycle which is equipped with an electric motor, thus allowing a cyclist to cruise along at speeds of (typically) up to 25 kilometers per hour. In Pedelecs, the electric motor cannot be used to exclusively propel the bicycle, it can only be used in conjunction with the pedals, while in E-bikes, the motor can also be used to propel the bicycle purely on power of the electric motor.
Bicycles were invented in Europe, and so are electric power-assisted cycles (or EPACS/ Pedelecs). Governments such as those in Belgium, Portugal, Germany, Croatia and Netherlands have already started investments in electric bicycles because of the multitude of benefits they provide. ICTs can find use in connecting people with available bicycles, as many of these government investments have been made in the field of bicycle sharing as well.
Multi-modal transport and inter-modality
Transport modes are the means of commuting that people choose to get to their destination. A journey becomes multi-modal when more than one mode of transportation is chosen to complete a journey.
A transportation system oriented towards just the automobile is a problematic one. It leads to issues such as pollution, congestion, and hampers social inclusion.
Considering the fact that city centres across the world are getting harder and harder to travel through owing to deteriorating accessibility, and congestion is becoming an increasing problem, multi-modal transport can be viewed as an approach to fulfil today’s transportation needs. It may even be possible that a combination of public and private transport is used to complete a journey, thus allowing us to capitalise on the strengths of various systems while hopefully avoiding their drawbacks.
Some factors that need to be taken into consideration are timing and ticketing, so that it is ensured that passengers are able to make it to the next mode of transport seamlessly and complete their journey successfully. There are more severe requirements from a multi-modal transportation system though, and travellers need to be conscious of the changes that they will have to make during their journey, and what benefit it is likely to bring them.
In these circumstances, availability of high-quality travel information is crucial. The actual transfer process between the different modes/services should be seamless and be able to set new standards in terms of transfer nodes, and for time-tabled services pertaining transportation to be sufficiently synchronised.
A lot of reliable information is necessary to execute a successful multi-modal travel system that benefits end users, and a lot of partnerships need to be made between various service providers to ensure the system is reliable and consistent.
This may involve ideas such as smart ticketing systems, travel planning services, etc. Other innovative solutions include ideas such as combined public transport, and sharing services for cars and bicycles integrated with transfer nodes.
Intelligent Transportation Systems
Intelligent Transportation Systems are technological solutions that gather data about particular aspects of transportation, process it, and then use that processed data to improve the management of those aspects, and/or provide the transportation end user (passenger or commuter) with improved information on which to base their decisions related to transportation.
“While systems in industrial cities were mostly skeleton and skin,postindustrial cities are like organisms that develop an artificial nervous system, which enables them to behave in an intelligently coordinated way” –Mitchell, W. J. (2006). Smart City 2020.
“Intelligence” in cities then lies in the effectiveness of combining several digital telecommunication networks, data analysis and software, and the actual sources of information, namely sensors.
“The new intelligence of cities, then, resides in the increasingly effective combination of digital telecommunication networks (the nerves), ubiquitously embedded intelligence (the brains), sensors and tags (the sensory organs), and software (the knowledge and cognitive competence).”-Nam & Pardo
From the ICT point of view, a combination of communication and sensing technologies interact with each other to provide the services associated with Intelligent transportation systems.
Sensing technologies pick up key bits of information (typically raw data such as traffic counts) and communication technologies pass through that information to a central information resource, where data analytics may be performed as well, to “treat” the data. If an active measure is being undertaken, then an action will be performed based on this real-time information, whereas if the technology is being used purely to obtain information, this can serve information through relevant Indicators.
Sensing technologies include magnetic sensors, radars, induction loops etc., and communication technologies include Bluetooth-low power, RFID, communication protocols etc.
Substantial technological options, especially Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are available with decision makers in the field of Intelligent Transportation Systems, most of which have emerged from recent research and development.
Superior Intelligent transport systems that comprise of several different sub-networks allow us to optimise the use of road infrastructure, manage the flow of traffic in urban locations, handle public transport and movement of heavy vehicles, make our energy consumption more efficient, and at the same time reducing transport-related congestion and emission.
While ITSs can be thought of as a measure to solve problems related to traffic, their internal data, if logged, can additionally be used for obtaining information for a more informed policy-making process by acting as data sources for Indicators.