I recently participated in the Autonomy Mobility conference in Paris. A great 2-day experience filled with great keynotes and conversations, all centered around the future of mobility. That’s what I learned.
First of all, I found it very appropriate that the conference took place in Paris. The mobility landscape of the French capital has changed dramatically over the past two years, and it really shows that the future of mobility is not too far away, if we work hard to change our infrastructure and our state wit: pop-up bike lanes are everywhere, and the city is full of bike and scooter sharing options, a completely different picture if you compare it to the Paris of just a few years ago.
First impressions at the conference
Already upon entering the Porte de Versailles pavilion, it was clear that this conference was focused on the future of mobility – and not, like many mobility conferences, on cars. You can feel it by the all-important positioning of bikes, scooters, sharing providers in general complemented by even more diverse options in the micromobility sphere such as eMopeds, cargo bikes of various sizes, delivery vehicles the last mile, some autonomous public transport vehicles, and even small cars for only 1 or 2 passengers.
And, of course, everything with electric motors. The other thing that stood out first was how the discussions focused on data, APIs, and how to bring it all together. Private companies targeting exceptional user experiences alongside governments and local authorities focused on every citizen; pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and residents.
The challenges facing mobility today were evident as soon as you left the conference, even when using a bike-sharing option to get downtown.
Different means of transport and modalities all share the same space on the road, but this may not be the case. But how to organize all this without looking for more regulation? How to separate trucks, buses, SUVs from single-seater microcars, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, cargo bikes, scooters and pedestrians from each other? To ensure a safe trip and a constant flow of travel? Where do we park all these vehicles that take up too much space?
And the big question is how to make new mobility options more attractive?
It is complex and the solution must take into account many different aspects. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Mobility as a service This is the key. Joining the options of car, bicycle and whatever comes next in public transport to make the multimodal and smart option the most attractive.
This amounts to changing our behavior towards the reservation of a service rather than the purchase of a product. Here are 3 thoughts on why it makes sense and how it can help shape mobility for a better future.
Means of transport are getting smaller and smaller. I think, in general, that’s a good thing compared to the opposite trend of things like SUVs getting bigger and bigger. But micro-mobility will only bring added value that benefits everyone if it is a Mobility as a service Solution. Otherwise, it would only add even more vehicles to the existing portfolio of owned transport means. With shared options, it will no longer be a question of owning a bike, a cargo bike, a small car and a bigger car.
Instead, we can rent something we need for a specific context. By doing this we can significantly help solve the problem of car inefficiency – on average each car only carries 1.5 people. For single person trips you just rent a small car/bike/scooter, and when you are a group you rent a larger vehicle. Having fewer cars will obviously also improve the inefficient use of public space that private cars currently occupy through parking.
Adding all the new types of micro-mobility vehicles that are being produced and brought to market today along with the existing car, bike, transit, and pedestrian options creates a world of transportation options. multiple. But, the diversification of mobility makes it extremely difficult to organize and raises the question of what is the right infrastructure?
How to separate a delivery truck from ae-person small electric car? How to combine a regular bike with an eCargo bike carrying 350 kg of cargo?
The answer could be found if we focus on what already exists and on options that are already good in terms of efficiency: for example, public transport, cycling and walking.
A good example is the City of London, where the authorities have set a target of reaching an 80% traffic share in public transport, cycling and walking by 2040.
And Paris, too, is working to create a Town 15 minutes away. A city where you can reach all your household needs in 15 minutes, such as shopping, working and generally just living.
And to achieve this, regulation plays a big role. To emphasize, push and regulate towards such things as not allowing large trucks into the city center and instead using micro last mile cargo.
Other options could be to increase car parking fees and make alternatives more attractive. A good example is the city of Talinn where public transport is free for citizens and visitors who use the park-and-ride system.
Additionally, infrastructure, both physical and digital, must be aligned. Physically, it means to separate weaker toughest means of transport to prevent accidents and digitally to ensure that it is easy to use the alternatives.
Centered on society
To manage the complexity and diverse aspects of mobility in the future, we need to get everyone on board to co-create. We must bring together public institutions, governments and private companies.
Instead of focusing on unique users of a specific product or service, they should always think more holistically and contextually. Because sometimes citizens need cars, and sometimes they can just walk or ride a bike. Citizens of each city have different needs at different times. Whether it’s cycling with our kids, the key is to be flexible and close to mobility options.
When co-creating and thinking holistically, we must also always consider the impact of each specific means of transport on all others. If we do, it becomes clear that owning a gas-powered car simply has no future. It doesn’t just take up space on the road and in the parking lot – on average it stands still for 23 hours a day – it’s also noisy and polluting, especially compared to an electric vehicle. Imagine the space it could free up for citizens and society by having fewer cars in the cityscape.
Even when in use, the car’s capacity puts a strain on everything else by blocking the flow of traffic – it literally blocks the road for more efficient options such as public transport and micro-mobility options. And it’s not even effective for the user himself. Drivers struggle in traffic jams (an average Paris motorist spends almost 70 hours a year stuck in traffic jams) or when looking for parking lots, and these will become more expensive anyway. Although it may seem so, the solution does not center on punishing motorists.
Most of us need to drive a car once in a while. It’s about making alternative means of transport more attractive, cheaper (or free), safer and faster, and we can achieve this by intelligently separating the personal car from the main traffic routes and providing a better option, that we can choose the best background easily. It is about creating a great mobility future that benefits everyone at a society-centric level.
Mobility as a service is the most present and obvious solution for the future of mobility. Shared means of transportation, powered by humans or sustainable energy. The benefits would be more space, better air, less noise and overall: more time to enjoy life for all of us. I am curious and excited about this future, as are my colleagues at Manyone.
Do you want to know more?
If you want to know more, you can visit our page dedicated to mobility on Manyone.com and explore our five principles for the future of mobility. If you need focus, ideas or insights, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We are already carrying out different projects with excellent customers working on topics such as electric charging, autonomous driving, sustainability initiatives and mobility solutions as a service. We all want to co-create a better future by including all groups that can benefit from designing a better future for mobility, be it private companies, governments and public institutions, but in ultimately it’s about real people and making their lives better.
Manyone is a strategy-design hybrid. Visit us at Manyone.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and instagram. This article is reproduced with permission from the author of Medium. You can read the original here.