As congestion in cities rises and concerns around related fuel emissions grows, traditional and existing modes of transportation, from cars to buses and trains, can no longer keep up with the growing population. New methods of short distance transportation are changing the way we connect and move around our cities, between our everyday functions. Historically, planning in many cities developed around motor vehicles – for instance in Detroit expansion of cars and road networks heavily reduced the reliance on public transport. Half a century later many productive hours of the daytime are lost due to being stuck in traffic congestion arriving into and leaving our cities everyday. Megacities are facing epidemic pollution with land transport producing a fifth of total greenhouse emissions.
Increasingly more individualised modes of transport are available to get people from A to B, potentially shaping the design of transportation hubs by shifting mobility from more centralised singular modes. Advancements in smaller more personalised transportation technologies, lighter vehicles for personal use, which can be modifiable, modular and mobility-oriented (MOD’s) from bikes to scooters and other new technologies are now decentralising the way we access modes of transportation and changing the nature of how we connect between our daily activities and arrive at buildings. Such innovations can inform a radically different approach to how we plan our city infrastructure.
Increasing urbanisation demands new ideas for connectivity and transport. These will include various different ways of getting from A to B; and the traditional divisions between local public transport, logistics and privately used vehicles will become blurred.
Influence of new technologies on micromobility
Small battery-powered vehicles are transforming the way people move around their cities. Micromobility is unbundling the transportation so long dominated by a car. Why are small battery-powered vehicles transforming the way people move around their cities? Firstly, lightweight vehicles powered by batteries are clean and so good for the environment. They are also inexpensive – all forms of small vehicles need very little infrastructure and minimum maintenance. Using micromobility transportation is also healthy, quick, and fun.
In dense urban areas, where almost 50% of trips are 3 miles or less, a scooter or electric bicycle starts to be natural choice for everyday transportation. A bike sharing system in China claims to have nearly doubled accessibility to jobs, education, and health care by targeting areas more than 500 meters from public transport in Beijing and placing their fleet to fill those gaps.
Cities Will Evolve
Architecture and our understanding of urban space will change as technology evolves for smart infrastructure to deliver a successful stage for micromobility
and sustainable travel. In future there will be more of a sharing network with an overlap of digital and physical infrastructure and new cities will be designed in more efficient and economical ways than cities we know today. Micromobility will bring communities together and enable densification of services, blurring boundary between travelling and actively using public space. Much more convenient and faster than walking on short distances, this will free large areas in land in cities when car reliance drops and the space between cars and pedestrians will no longer be static.
There will be a new transport and infrastructure network of smart lanes for methods of micromobility transportation, where reduced car lanes are shared safely with increased demand for cycle, scooter and other personal methods of light transportation. Lane space made available from reduced traffic and reduced lane width will be used by pedestrians and cyclists. Underutilized parking spaces will be converted to shared lanes for low-speed vehicles like dockless bikes and scooters. Along with microbility, ride hailing and car sharing will be dominant in the city of the future.
Allocation of space in mobile oriented developments will need to adapt and dynamically change depending on the time of day or season, weather and other conditions, each of which affect the nature and usage of micromobility technologies. The same vehicular lane can be used by delivery of cars in early morning, low-speed vehicles during the day, managed recreational or spill out space at weekends. During holidays and longer periods of reduced traffic lanes can be used for gathering events, temporary accommodation and other tourism-related uses.
We will see new building typologies designed around micro connectivity and he development of multimodal transport hubs - with sufficient storage for personal micro transportation. There will be repair centres more regularly distributed across the city to service micromobility needs.The need for underground and multi-storey parking silo’s will reduce significantly as the reliance on vehicles drops, liberating space for other uses such as parks, markets and pop-up temporary events. Parking garages can be transformed to other uses - offices, social hubs, flexible co-working spaces.
Additionally, in future, there will be a new transport and infrastructure network of smart lanes for methods of micromobility transportation, where reduced car lanes are shared safely with increased demand for cycle, scooter and other personal methods of light transportation. Lane space made available from reduced traffic and reduced lane width will be used by pedestrians and cyclists. Underutilized parking spaces will be converted to shared lanes for low-speed vehicles like dockless bikes and scooters.