The future of mobility, our mobility – what will it look like? This question is probably one of the most hotly debated questions currently being asked by a wide range of different groups: Starting with commuters, continuing with the self-made expert and ending with the long-standing expert in autonomous driving. And yet no one will be able to answer this question.
All the more reason why the Future Mobility Camp in the Dresden State and University Library fascinated me so much, as its barcamp format, i.e. that there was no fixed agenda / list of speakers in advance, seemed to approach this question rather unconventionally. And so it was:
In three sessions, which were designed by the participants themselves, I gained an insight into traffic and mobility from the point of view of transport scientists, students or city consultants.
The first session was 70 minutes about “micromobility”, i.e. inner-city mobility, for example, in the form of electric scooters, which can already be found on every street corner in Paris. The maximum speed for this is 15 km/h. Micromobility focuses primarily on the question of how to transport more people through the same space. We discussed not only e-scooters, but also remote-controlled skateboards, kilometre-long conveyor belts, as known from the airport, and a transport system inspired by the airport. With this system, every passer-by could get a tag to be transported through the city in a huge “luggage system”. In the end however, we couldn’t agree on a solution in the 70-minute session and got lost in some small-scale debate about the current legal situation and the possible compatibility of pedestrians and e-scooters on the sidewalk.
Nevertheless, the following arguments made a lasting impression on me:
- A study from Portland (Oregon) has shown that e-scooters replace car traffic, but not pedestrian traffic. Furthermore, tourists in particular are using e-scooters, which are easy to rent.
- Even if the infrastructure adjustments necessary for micromobility seem large to us, they cannot be compared in any way with the costs of adapting to the car. Only existing road widths have to be adapted or traffic separations introduced.
- Micromobility could help small supermarkets and shops to regain their momentum, as trips to them would become more lucrative again.
- Over the past decades, people around the world have always invested the same amount of time in travel. Thus, the time spent on transportation/travel per day is constant over time, transportation modes and the comfort of the means of transportation within a country. We may travel faster these days, but we travel farther and more often.
Personally, I believe that micromobility is a serious issue and can also be a step in the right direction towards the sensible use of urban space. For example, how much valuable space are we already giving away for multi-lane roads through city centres, which are usually subject to heavy traffic during rush hours? And how much space for parking spaces where vehicles are parked that are only used for an average of one hour a day?
These questions will soon be addressed in the #fmcdd19 sessions on IOKI and parking management. See you soon!