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Sustainable Cities Transport

Jump in my pod

People need to live and travel more sustainably in the cities of the 21st century. Forum for the Future’s new report, ‘Megacities on the Move’, explores the mobility challenges that face the world – and how the responses to those challenges might play out. Peter Madden reports


ow will people travel in the cities of the future? How will billions of city- dwellers access what they need with- out intolerable strain on the planet? Perhaps we will live our lives online. Inhabiting virtual worlds for much of our leisure time. Maybe we will

We cannot predict what will happen. But by exploring a range of possible futures, deci- sion-makers can develop more resilient plans today. And this is particularly important for long-term issues such as urban planning and transport infrastructure.

all be buzz-

ing around on solar scooters and new zero- emission micro-vehicles. Or we might be condemned to driving at all hours of the day and night to beat crippling congestion. Forum for the Future’s new report, Megacities on the Move, explores the mobility challenges that will face the world and how the different responses to those challenges might play out over the coming decades. It aims to help governments, companies

and civil society organisations understand the challenges of the future, apply them to their own needs, and develop strategies which will enable people to live and travel more sustain- ably in the cities of the 21st century. The scenarios in the report explore a range

of different futures. In one, people get around using highly-planned, green and efficient pub- lic transport. In another, the petrol-fuelled car still dominates and the rich pay extra to beat the traffic jams. While in a third, transport is highly-personalised and people move about in a range of small electric vehicles – souped up bikes,covered scooters and pod-cars.

To help make better decisions today, the report also draws a number of lessons for transport planning and investment. To begin with, we need to see beyond the car. The cur- rent growth rates of personal vehicle owner- ship are simply unsustainable in the future; there are already one billion cars in the world, a figure which is expected to grow to two billion within a few decades. To avoid cities becoming further congested and car-depend- ent, it is critical that we design now for people, not cars. And cities should further encourage a shift away from cars by promoting alternative modes of transport and creating alternatives to car ownership, like flexible car renting. Cars will still be with us for the foreseeable future. With oil as one of the most threatened and increasingly difficult to access resources, we will need to rethink how we fuel our cars. The uncertainty over future energy supplies is, of course, compounded by rising awareness of climate change and the increasing possibil- ity of regulation that will shift the way we power the global economy. As oil becomes more scarce, expensive and a security risk,

8 | Sustainable Business | Sustainable Cities | February 2011

Cities should encourage a shift away from cars by promoting alternative modes of transport and alternatives to car ownership

we will have to implement greater energy efficiency measures, and shift the way we power vehicles – from petrol to renewable, low-carbon fuel sources.

We need to focus more on access – to goods, services, people and information – rather than transport per se. Architects and urban plan- ners should focus on creating mixed-use urban neighbourhoods with the infrastructure to serve local communities, dense developments in cities that prevent further sprawl, and a high degree of accessibility and walkability. These changes to the urban form would alter the daily commute for many residents, encourag-

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