From ‘healthy streets’ to ’15-minute city’, a world tour along new concepts for mobility

How can we facilitate mobility that contributes to the livability of people in the city and rural areas? The Embassy of Mobility will investigate this in the coming months with by conducting various experiments. The biggest test case, however, presented itself this year. “Covid-19 showed us the impact of mobility systems on our living environment.”

Type Update
Published on 15 October 2020
Part of Embassy of Mobility
From ‘healthy streets’ to ’15-minute city’, a world tour along new concepts for mobility
Part of Embassy of Mobility

Rob Adams of innovation agency Six Fingers in Eindhoven is curator of the Embassy of Mobility. Over the past six months, he’s been looking with great interest at a world turned upside down by a pandemic. Apart from the suffering, there were also benefits: the clean air, the quiet streets and the inspiring initiatives that arose all over the world. One drawback, he says at the end of the interview, was the stream of opinions that spread across our country together with corona: “While suspending your judgment is crucial in shaping the future. I feel it is the task of designers to challenge the existing dominant logic. Not by directly opposing it with a different logic, but by asking questions.”

There are three questions that will play an important role in this Embassy. How can the layout of a city or village evolve to minimise transport movements? Adams mentions, for example, the initiative of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. She states that cities are now being designed for cars. Her proposal is a ’15-minute city’, where all facilities can be reached within fifteen minutes by public transport, walking or by bike.


Eric Feferberg via Getty Images

The second question is how the infrastructure can adapt for journeys that do require a longer travel time. How can other forms of mobility be developed or given priority?

Image by Arrival

And the third question is, how can we adapt our search behavior? “We have recently put a lot of effort into MaaS (Mobility as a Service) systems. But in addition to people planning a journey on the basis of time or costs, more and more other decision factors are being added, such as health and safety. “A proposal was presented in Boston to designate ‘healthy streets’. The plan is an answer to the corona crisis and is meant to provide a safe option for people who want to go from a to b. It is interesting to give people more insight into the consequences of their mobility choices.”

Parc de la Distance by Precht

Rijkswaterstaat is one of the partners of the Embassy of Mobility. We meet with Stan Kerkhofs who is a Living Lab specialist in the corporate innovation programme of RWS. He looks forward to collaborating with companies, governments, knowledge institutes, designers and residents in the experiments that will hopefully take place in the Brainport region in 2021. After DDW 2020, various meet-ups will be organized to determine which experiments are most needed. RWS has an interesting and state-of-the-art tool that can be used during the tests, a System Dynamic Model. This model was developed in close collaboration with the province of North Brabant and the municipality of Eindhoven for the ‘Collectief Besloten Vervoer’. “With this model you can explore different scenarios. For example, when mobility hubs are constructed, what is the impact on mobility movements and what is the effect on air quality? It offers residents and administrators insights and perspective, without the need to write extensive reports.”

This DDW, visitors will be invited on a virtual journey around the world. Adams: “We’ve collected inspiring mobility initiatives, from Bogota to Tokyo. These examples, together with the meet-ups planned later this year, will help us determine which experiments we will focus on. The results will be presented at DDW21.

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