Smart, sustainable urbanization and mobility

Back to the source of mobility

The smart and sustainable design of mobility requires more than separate pilots and projects. That will not bring about real and, above all, lasting change. The way in which we view mobility and how we facilitate it must undergo real structural change if we are to be future-proof. We need to look and act differently. So back to basics, to 'the source of mobility'. 

After all, mobility is not a natural phenomenon. Mobility is the result of previous (among other things) choices, for example in spatial planning, location policy, housing supply and implementation, employer facilities, pricing and capacity policy and regulations. These choices determine where and when what mobility arises: we want to go to work, the GP, supermarket and after-school care, stores need to be stocked and online purchases go to the collection point. Solutions to mobility issues are therefore not related to a specific topic, but always to a combination of factors. This calls for a broad approach that can be applied to all facets of mobility: public transport, passenger cars and freight transport, private mobility services and the associated infrastructure, laws and regulations and safety.

Traditionally, national and regional governments address mobility problems reactively by facilitating mobility that has been created, often through large investments in and operating budgets for infrastructure and public transport. Searching traffic for a parking spot in the city center? Extra parking garage. Bus full? Extend timetable. Bus empty? Still run the regular timetable. This costs a lot of money and time, while the average travel time in the Netherlands has been the same for decades. And all this while commuting distances have increased. It is time for different mobility: smarter and more sustainable, safer and more inclusive.

Urbanization as an opportunity for sustainable mobility 

The ever-increasing pressure on space and the current urbanization assignment offer two enormous opportunities to immediately integrate smart, sustainable mobility. In this way we can not only influence in advance which mobility will be created where and when, but also facilitate that mobility is as sustainable as possible: the housing and urbanization assignment as an instrument for organizing mobility sustainably at the source. Think of multifunctional areas and the 15-minute city, limiting the number of inward and outward trips in an area. 

Secondly, smart mobility offers new design principles, which also enable new (spatial planning) choices: mobility as a tool to sustainably organize the housing and urbanization challenge. Examples include Mobility as a Service, partial mobility, hubs and selective access (e.g. only for zero emission vehicles), which limit the required parking space, investments in infrastructure and the impact on the living environment.


Integral thinking and action 

The mobility transition is one of the changes that are necessary and cannot be seen separately from other tasks. It comes down to integral thinking and acting: with cohesion as the starting point. Mobility is a driver, but it is also and above all a consequence of many other choices in other tasks.

Smart, sustainable mobility builds on previous choices, agreements and experiences. And brings together the various policy areas such as housing construction, energy, water management and mobility - because of the necessary cohesion - above all. Changes are already being prepared or are in full swing, a great deal of knowledge and experience has already been gained and good agreements have already been made in a number of areas. It is logical to build on these earlier choices and agreements, make them more concrete and, above all, bring them together. So that one does not just 'get in the way' of the other, but actually strengthens them.