Rethinking urban mobility : Sustainable Urban Transport
One of the key aspects of urban sustainability lies in the relationship between the environment and transportation. Transportation infrastructure and patterns are at the root of many environmental problems, including air pollution, increased reliance on non-renewable sources of energy that become a major cause for increase in energy consumption. Thus it is essential to include non-motorized transportation in the web of options to help create and plan for sustainable cities
NMVs offer low cost private transport, emit no pollution, use renewable energy, emphasize use of labor rather than capital for mobility, and are well suited for short trips in most cities regardless of income, offering an alternative to motorized transport for many short trips. Thus, they are appropriate elements in strategies dealing with poverty alleviation, air pollution, management of traffic problems and motorization, and the social and economic dimensions of structural adjustment. NMVs have a most important role to play as a complementary mode to public transportation.
Cities in Asia exhibit widely varying modal mixes. NMVs — bicycles, cycle-rickshaws, and carts — now play a vital role in urban transport in much of Asia. NMVs account for 25 to 80 percent of vehicle trips in many Asian cities, more than anywhere else in the world. Ownership of all vehicles, including NMVs, is growing rapidly throughout Asia as incomes increase. However, the future of NMVs in many Asian cities is threatened by growing motorization, loss of street space for safe NMV use, and changes in urban form prompted by motorization. Transport planning and investment in most of Asia has focused principally on the motorized transport sector and has often ignored the needs of non-motorized transport. Unless Non-Motorized Transport Strategies are adopted to slow or reverse this trend, problems related to traffic safety, air pollution, energy use, traffic congestion, urban sprawl, and the employment and mobility of low income people may spiral out of control, while increasing the speed of global climate change.
However, the future of NMVs in many Asian cities is threatened by growing motorization, loss of street space for safe NMV use, and changes in urban form prompted by motorization
Transport planning and investment in most of Asia has focused principally on the motorized transport sector and has often ignored the needs of non-motorized transport. Without changes in policy, NMV use may decline precipitously in the coming decade, with major negative effects on air pollution, traffic congestion, global warming, energy use, urban sprawl, and the employment and mobility of low-income people.
As an outlook towards sustainable cities, Non Motorized Vehicles are now being encouraged in various cities- for short trips. These cities are being designed for upgrading the transport facilities for NMV and pedestrians.
Aspects of NMT that illustrate its usefulness when access is limited are:
NMT provides a flexible form of transport that can be used for the door-to-door transport of persons and goods with improved travel time and route options.
With low operational costs they provide an independent mode of transportation for users to commute to places of work and leisure. 2
Promotion of NMT (Cyclists & Pedestrians) environment will provide an opportunity for city to reduce it’s consumption of non-renewable source of energy thus addressing the issue of energy efficiency/climate change.
As cities in Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, and several other European nations demonstrate, the modernization of urban transport does not require total motorization, but rather the appropriate integration of walking, NMV modes, and motorized transport. As in European and Japanese cities, where a major share of trips are made by walking and cycling, NMVs have an important role to play in urban transport systems throughout Asia in coming decades. Transport investment and policy are the primary factors that influence NMV use and can have an effect on the pace and level of motorization. To maximize transportation efficiency and sustainability, transport planning in Asian and other cities will need to focus more closely on stratifying different travel markets by trip length and encouraging different travel modes for various market segments.
In Asian cities there are many more complex issues surface when promotion of NMT facilities is considered. The motorization of Asian cities is at a vast rate, and NMVs are just considered as a mode for the poor. It is essential that the attitude towards NMVs as a whole in the city is changed through strong policies, encouraging NMV and discouraging expanse of Motorized Vehicle which Asian roads can’t even cater too. Solutions for our transport problems of increasing density, congestion, pollution doesn’t lie in concretizing and constructing massive flyovers, instead it lies in proper streamlining of traffic and propagating and promoting the Non Motorized Vehicle. Our roads need to be NMT friendly with proper facilities for the pedestrian and cycles. An attractive and effective design would encourage more and more people to take these modes of travel. Matters of design and policy can include
- Make space for walking, cycling and public transport, at the expense of space used by cars and motorcycles
- Restrict car & motorcycle use and access in the city-centre
- Avoid road widening & construction of elevated highways in cities, instead planning for the kind of transport one wants in Asian cities
- Provide good and sufficiently wide footpaths and NMV paths along all urban roads
- Create low speed zones (30 km/h zones) and narrower roads discouraging more increase of motorized vehicle
- Create cycle networks through out the city such that it formulates a continuous track and cycling thereby can result as a viable transportation mode, this accompanied with inter modal facilities at relevant locations in the city
Various Indian cities are now taking pioneering steps towards Promotion of NMT, with roads designed with appropriate facilities for the NMT. It is defiantly a positive step towards Sustainable Urban Transport. Integration of the hope of modernization of our cities, with increasing dependency on Motorized Vehicle and understanding and promoting Non Motorized Transportation within the same milieu are to be mitigated together in Asian Cities, and developing World Class Sustainable Cities.