Rapid population growth in cities leads to problems concerning traffic and mobility:
- How should we deal with the growing volume of traffic?
- How can people stay mobile in the suburbs?
- How can we avoid excessive environmental pollution?
- Do environmentally friendly solutions exist at all?
- Should we generally switch from private transportation to public transport?
Strategies, strategies and even more strategies
Experts generally distinguish between these three strategies to deal with mobility issues:
- “avoidstrategies”: measures that shall reduce traffic
- “improvestrategies“:measures that improve transport technology and
- “shift strategies”: measures that should convince people to change the means of transport
To reduce the private transport in a city, politicians often decide to establish financial measures like a congestion charge:
1975: As one of the first cities, the citizens of Singapore had to pay a congestion charge. Up to 1998 this charge had to be paid manually. In 1998 they established an Electronic Road Pricing System.
2003: London also chose the possibility of a congestion charge to reduce traffic. This system is very expensive and disputed for the citizens.
You’ll mainly find pioneers, who chose shift strategies, in South America. With a lot of charm and assertiveness, some forceful personalities managed to get the citizens to agree to some innovative ideas.
Curitiba (Brazil): Jamie Lerner, who had been the mayor of the city from 1971 to 1992, decided to block all roads for cars. Instead of he established an express-bus-system. Today this bus network comprises 11.000 km and Curitiba is one of the greenest cities in the world.
Bogotá (Colombia): In 2003, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa also established a express-bus-system. Besides he increased the fuel tax and limited traffic at peak times. Maybe you know his famous quote:
“An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation.”
This includes especially the transition to electronic-powered transportation. Vienna is also a city with a role model function: The project “emobility on demand”, a car-sharing model for electric vehicles, will surely be successful in the future.
Another way to improve the traffic situation is “shared space”, a traffic solution, which had been invented in the early 90s in the Netherlands. All road users use this space together and due to lack of road signs and sidewalks they take more care of each other. It’s proven that the risk of accidents goes down.
The preceding strategies mostly mention just one aspect of the transport system of a city. But there are cities which set it as their goal to develop a general environmentally friendly transport system:
Masdar City, a glimpse of the future in the desert: This city, which is set in Abu Dhabi, is currently in the construction phase. In a few years, residents will live here with driverless electric cars, shaded streets cooled by a huge wind tower and a Big Brother-style “green policeman” monitoring their energyuse. The completion date has been put at 2021 or 202. The architect of the city is called Norman Foster. Foster’s vision was for Masdar’s streets to be pedestrian-only with pilotless vehicles running via magnets and fibre-optic cables.We’ll see if it’s really realizable.
Author: Eva-Maria Forstner
Date: 29 March 2015