Imagine living in a city where all your activities are within reach on foot, by bike or by a well-connected transport system. Low transport cities are a new way of organising life in urban areas, and together with technological trends, it can create cities with lower demands for transport of goods and people. Reducing the need for transport is the long-lasting approach to reducing emissions, but it is also a driver of productivity and quality of life in the city. Smarter zoning and planning can create great opportunities for cities to flourish – with clean air.
CITIES WITH MORE THAN ONE CITY CENTRE
Many urban areas have been evolving rapidly without an overall plan for mobility – resulting in many cities having a mono-centric structure with one city centre. The city centre is, in many urban areas, where most of the central functions of the city are placed, including the services offered to residents as well as many work- places. Urban residents often live in one area, work in another, and have other activities in a third. While this might have been practical at an age when workplaces were polluting a lot, the effect today is to spread out our activities geographically across much larger urban areas. This creates a high demand for transport due to most people having more than one activity per day.
Planning new cities and reorganising existing cities to a structure with more than one city centre, will reduce the demand for transportation of people and goods creating cleaner and more vibrant cities to the benefit of both the people living there and the businesses placed there. Spatial planning with a focus on location-efficient development for having more mixed use areas with business, schools and other public institutions in the same buildings will systematically reduce the need for transport. It will reduce commuting distances and improve work-life balance.
Changing how cities evolve can have a positive impact on reducing air pollution and carbon emissions. In emerging economies, major portions of land use patterns are still open to be influenced making the potential impact of transport reduction particularly significant. How new developments in existing cities are planned plays a big role in how high the demand for transport will be in the future. Car-free housing and prioritization of human-scale modes of transport such as walking and biking can reduce the emissions from transport.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES REDUCE TRANSPORT DEMAND
Utilization of new technologies such as 3D printing to produce products close to the consumers instead of transporting prefabricated products around the world, and using video conferencing for meetings and consultations, can significantly reduce the need for transport.
An added benefit of shifting from personal cars to public trans- port, biking or even walking in cities is the enormous space that would be made available for purposes other than parking and roads. A car takes up approximately 180 square meters for roads and parking area, which is around 18 times more in comparison to busses or bikes.
All in all, planning for low transport cities with activities located closer to the users, providing non-motorised alternatives for transportation and utilising already existing and emerging technologies to reduce the need for travel can lower transport emissions. Additional benefits to low-transport cities include greater productivity, less noise, better road safety, lower welfare costs (hospital etc.), reduced congestion, and more local jobs strengthening the local economy.
Percent green house gas reduction because of compact urban areas.
KM average car use reduction per person annually by building compact cities.
Percent of air cargo and ocean container business can be replaced by 3D printing.
Pittsburgh’s Low-Carbon Corridor project aims to make public spaces safe, accessible, and enjoyable.
Location: USA See this solution
The city of Santander in Spain collects urban data on traf c conditions and public transport to develop smart infrastructure.
Location:Spain See this solution
Chennai, India, has adopted a policy to prioritize walking and cycling and discourage the use of motorized vehicles.
Location: India See this solution
17 transit-oriented developments (TODs) will be built in the Chongqing area favoring cyclists and pedestrians.
Location: China See this solution
Buenos Aires is increasing its sidewalk space and building networks of safe bicycle lanes.
Location: Argentina See this solution
São Paulo has created a scheme that encourages new real estate developments near public transportation.
Location: Brazil See this solution
Johannesburg plans to build high-density housing, of ces, social facilities, and retail along its revitalized transport corridors.
Location: South Africa See this solution
Singapore plans to boost public transportation while limiting the number of private vehicles on the road.
Location: Singapore See this solution
Even though the opportunity also includes planning cities to be low transport cities from the start, retrofitting cities
to minimize the demand for transportation of people and goods is also a way of reducing emissions. It can, however, be a costly endeavour that may go some way to explain the low scores this opportunity attracted in our survey.
The opportunity of low transport cities is this year’s least favoured opportunity on the overall ranking. The opportunity concerns the retrofitting of existing cities to discourage transport, which may seem as an overwhelming task. Hence, re-organising cities is not seen as a worthwhile tool for addressing the risk of accelerating transport emissions. Of all sectors surveyed, the manufacturing sector is the most positive.
There is a slight variation in how this opportunity is perceived between medium and high HDI countries. Medium HDI countries see greater potential in this opportunity than higher HDI countries. It may be a signal that many of these countries are currently going through rapid urbanisation processes with all the problems that go along with it in terms of congestion, insufficient capacity of the road network, and so forth. Respondents in Sub Saharan Africa see potential societal benefits in this opportunity, but the region is perceived to lack the capacity to pursue it. This especially applies to the economic capacity which is seen to be limited.
The survey findings reveal that lack of political will power is the main factor holding back the capacity to pursue this opportunity in South and North America and in the MENA region. China is the exception, as Chinese respondents perceive low transport cities to be one of the opportunities to be most supported by civil society. The latter might reflect the challenges China is facing regarding air pollution throughout the country. Respondents in China have also rated this opportunity in top ve of all opportunities, also emphasising the societal benefits of addressing air pollution in China.
Perceived benefits from pursuing this opportunity (x), and capacity to do so (y), World and geographic regions. Scale goes from -10 to +10.