Mobility Report 2021

By L. Dennis Burns, CAPP

I recently reviewed “Mobility Report 2021—Current Dynamics of the Mobility Megatrend.” Author Dr. Stefan Carsten is a futurologist and mobility researcher investigating which trends are driving mobility issues, how the pandemic is affecting our mobility behavior, and where mobility meets other megatrends such as urbanization, connectivity, and health.

According to Carsten, “The Corona crisis is having a profound and long-term impact on mobile society, both in high-density urban areas and in rural areas. During the first wave of the pandemic, streets were swept empty and many of the mobility practices that had previously defined everyday life were called into question. The pandemic is hitting the mobility sector—and is realigning the entire industry.”

Here is a summary of the trends he sees as the beginning of a new era of mobility:

  1. Road Diets. Road diets mark the departure from the model of the automotive city and the return to urban quality of life for the benefit of all. Cities are converting car-centered streets and parking lots into public spaces for mobility, the street and space for parking cars is being reduced, bike paths and sidewalks are being expanded along with shared prioritization with public transport.
  2. Mobility Seekers. Mobility is developing from movement in space to a mobile experience. Mobility seekers perfect this new game of mobility by navigating flexibly, on the go, through the cities of the world. They do not need their own car, but they do not shy away from automobility either; they take advantage of the almost unlimited possibilities that are available to them. And the cities are reacting with new offers and new spaces.
  3. All-inclusive Mobility. Commuters and business travelers want mobility from a single source, and mobility providers are starting to tailor their offers accordingly. In the context of all-inclusive mobility, mobility products–such as cars, bicycles or public transport–take a back seat to mobility services and join a seamless mobility chain. The bundling of the offers works not only digitally via an app, but also in the physical space.
  4. Delivery Bots. In the future, delivery bots will populate our streets and sidewalks to deliver parcels that are not only highly efficient, but also extremely hygienic. The trend is fundamentally changing shopping and retailing–the usual interpersonal contact during delivery will no longer exist.

Carsten concludes that for many people, the corona crisis revealed for the first time the existential importance of being able to move around–and what a world with little traffic and clean air could look like. The crisis also opens up a great opportunity: the design of new, healthier, and future-proof mobility. Read more here.

L. Dennis Burns, CAPP, is senior practice builder and regional vice president with Kimley-Horn, and a member of IPMI’s Board of Directors.