Rethinking Urban Mobility: Three questions that will shape the future of transport in cities

20 February 2018

Cities are a magnet for people as centres for jobs, economic activity and innovation, and urban mobility systems lie at the very heart of what makes cities attractive and viable. Urban transport however is facing an urgent set of challenges as a number of social, technological, economic, environmental and political impacts place further stress on already straining systems.  As new business models and technologies try and solve these challenges, huge uncertainties about how these will impact cities over the long term remain, and whether they will move ahead of customer acceptance and regulatory frameworks.



The Mobility Revolution

At the beginning of the twenty-first century we are witnessing another rapid technological revolution, with communication-based technologies enabling radically different approaches to mobility for both people and goods. Even as hotbeds of innovation, the fundamentals of city transport systems have not changed significantly over the last 50 years.

Driven by population growth, consumer expectations, fiscal concerns, and environmental and health concerns, mobility ecosystems are in a state of flux. The urban mobility landscape must shift or even radically transform to meet this change. It is therefore a pressing time to consider the change that is occurring and understand the problems we are trying to solve. We must think about how to shape urban mobility systems today, as what we do now will impact our cities for decades and centuries to come.

Rethinking Urban Mobility

In recognition of the need to proactively manage change in the UK, Gowling WLG, in collaboration with the London Transport Museum, Arup and Thales UK, has sought to address this challenge through a series of thought-provoking discussions for leading thinkers and decision-makers to consider the challenges and opportunities facing our cities' transport systems and infrastructure.

These discussions focused on topics including:

  • Changing user demands and expectations;
  • Autonomous and intelligent technologies; and
  • The strategies and policies required to achieve change

The outcomes for which have given rise to the Rethinking Urban Mobility report, exploring a range of issues and opinions on key questions within the sector. The report reflects on these conversations, presenting the emerging themes with a view to making the debate more transparent and increase the speed of progress, driving the debate around these complex infrastructural evolutions occurring in the sector.

Bringing together public and private entities, Rethinking Urban Mobility is not intended to define the answers to the complex challenges and opportunities facing the sector. Instead, the report serves to fuel the conversations to enable transformational change, highlighting the priorities and actions for policy makers, city leaders and built environment professionals, to give rise to sustainable mobility systems that offer solutions which enhance the quality of life of city residents.

Capitalising on the conversation

Posing three major questions, the collective views of the roundtable participants were not always in agreement, reflecting the uncertainty of the times, acknowledging that disruptive change will bring challenges but also opportunities for positive transformation.

Elaborated in full in the report, notable highlights include:

  • Greater public-private collaboration;
  • Enabling bold local decision-making;
  • Seamless journeys and new technology;
  • Contributing to lower carbon emission targets;
  • Affordable public transport; and
  • Health and wellbeing.

Find out more

We hope you find it a valuable and thought-provoking read. For more information or to discuss how we may be able to support you, please contact Giles Clifford or Matt Hervey.

Download the report.


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