Cycle vision: Buenos Aires plots a bigger bicycle future

This World Bicycle Day, Manuela Lopez Menendez explains how Argentina’s capital boosted decade-old cycling policies during the pandemic, to achieve radical results

Safe streets: a child uses Buenos Aires’ ever-increasing cycle infrastructure

Covid-19: a challenge and a catalyst

The year 2020 made us rethink the kind of city we wanted to have once the pandemic was over. The limitations imposed on us by the virus forced us to implement previously unthinkable mobility scenarios. Transport was only available for some workers, we closed some subway stations to encourage short trips on foot, and we encouraged the use of private vehicles for those who could use them. Like any other place in the world, the movement of people and goods became extremely difficult.

But the pandemic also allowed us to reassess our progress towards making Buenos Aires an equal-opportunity city. We ran a review of how our various transport initiatives were delivering on this goal, and concluded that we needed to go harder – and deeper – with our transformational policies.

Cyclists – the pandemic street protagonists

In Buenos Aires, during the pandemic, cyclists were the protagonists. As in other cities around the world, general traffic circulation decreased by more than 53% in 2020. Public transport was the most affected form of mobility; it went from representing 50% of total trips to just 29%. Subway use, in particular, declined to historic lows, reaching just 2% of its usual level. On the other hand, private car use grew significantly in terms of total trips, since for many people it represented the safest mode to get around. Car use jumped from 22% to 36% of total trips.

Taking all of this into consideration, we decided to focus heavily on the most accessible, safe and contagion-free means of transport: cycling. We supported the existing policy of promoting active mobility with more bike lanes and incentives to use bicycles. We set out to accelerate the strategic plan that we began more than ten years ago, using all the experience gained over the years. It was clear that without our existing policy, none of these new improvements would have happened.

The pandemic radically changed how we move around Buenos Aires

The foundations were already laid. While other cities in the world focused on creating emergency bike lanes, Buenos Aires already had a 250-kilometre network by 2020. Cycling was a real and accessible mobility option, thanks to the cultural change and commitment made more than ten years beforehand.

We built two new bike paths totalling 17 kilometres in record time on two of the most iconic avenues of the city: Córdoba and Corrientes. The result was astounding: bike trips on both avenues increased by 350% as soon as we opened the new cycling lanes. And another excellent piece of news: the number of female cyclists quadrupled! The new bicycle lanes represent autonomy, empowerment, and more places where women feel they can move safely.

Here to stay: People enjoying the bike paths and bicycle lanes of the City of Buenos Aires

We also experienced the biking boom across the city; bike sales doubled, and deliveries made by bicycle grew by 50%.

Bicycles are here to stay

The city is still working to increase the number of bike paths and improve the public bicycle sharing system. This will create more integrated neighbourhoods with sustainable mobility options. Having streets with space for everyone leads to greater inclusiveness.

Buenos Aires has far exceeded its goals. In 2020, more than 10% of total trips in the city were made by bike, while in 2009 they represented just 0.4%. We are proud of this growth because it means that more people are included, are autonomous and have better access to opportunities. Cycling creates a healthier life for citizens and a greener, cleaner Buenos Aires.

A shared future: a rendered image of shared streets on Liberator and Correa Avenues

Covid-19 disrupted our way of living and moving. In Argentina’s capital city, the pandemic accelerated the shift towards more sustainable mobility. This journey began more than a decade ago, but the challenge of the pandemic made us chart a new course of action. Today we have the city’s first “shared street”: Avenida Del Libertador. The century-old street – designed only for cars – now sees different forms of mobility coexist, like bikes, skateboards and buses. It is a new example of how we work: the bicycle is here to stay and is part of the city of the future that we want.

Manuela Lopez Menendez is Secretary of Transportation and Public Works in the Government of the City of Buenos Aires

एक नया तरीका: मेट्रो और मुंबई

मुंबई का बुनियादी ढांचा बदल रहा है । शहर में फील्डवर्क करते हुए, कार्ल एडलर ने देखा कि भारत की वित्तीय राजधानी में नए परिवहन मोड महानगर को कैसे नया रूप देंगें ।

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मैं उठता हूँ , तैयार होता हूँ , बाहर जाता हूँ  और चर्चगेट तक लगभग एक किलोमीटर चलकर आता हूँ । मैं जांघ-ऊंचाई वाले बोल्डर और बाड़ की लंबाई के बीच से गुज़रता हूँ, जो फुटपाथ को संकुचित करते हैं । कोई इष्टतम ऊंचाई नहीं है जिस पर मेरी निगाहों को इस तरह  टिका सकूँ कि बाधाओं से बच जाऊं ; यहाँ हर जगह आश्चर्य है, और पूरे दृश्य पर पूरा ध्यान देने की आवश्यकता है। अंत में, मैं चर्चगेट पहुँचता हूँ। मैंने यहाँ और बांद्रा के बीच के लिए एक मासिक पास खरीदा है, इसलिए मुझे टिकट खिड़की के  बाहर कतार में इंतजार नहीं करना पड़ेगा। मुझे अगले तीन सप्ताह तक ऐसा नहीं करना पड़ेगा। मैं लंबे सफेद गलियारे के अंत में मेटल डिटेक्टर से गुज़रता हूँ   और बर्थ में आराम से बैठी चौड़ी बैंगनी ट्रेनों को देखता हूँ ।

प्रत्येक ट्रेन बड़े हरे रंग की संख्याओं और अक्षरों के साथ एक डिस्प्ले के नीचे खड़ी हुई हैं जो इंगित करती है कि ट्रेन कब जा रही है, कहाँ रुकेगी और कहाँ ख़तम  होगी। यह कोड सरल है, लेकिन उन सभी महीनों में इसे क्रैक करने से मुझे ऐसा लगा कि अब मैं मुंबई से हूँ । अब मुझे इसके बारे में सोचने की भी जरूरत नहीं है। मैं उस संकेत के नीचे ट्रेन तक जाता हूं जो मुझे बताता है कि यह एक्सप्रेस नहीं चलती है, कि यह अंधेरी जाती है, और यह दूसरों की तुलना में जल्दी जा रही है। मैं गाड़ी में प्रवेश करता हूं और ओवरहेड पंखे को चालू करने के लिए अपनी सीट के पास एक स्विच फ्लिप करता हूँ । तीस सेकंड के भीतर, हम प्रस्थान करते हैं। दरवाजे बंद नहीं होते हैं, लेकिन यह सामान्य है। माहिम जंक्शन के लिए मेरे पच्चीस मिनट या उससे अधिक की यात्रा में, मेरी कार में भीड़ बढ़ जाती है और लोग उन खुले दरवाजों के पास खड़े हो जाते हैं, और उस \ पट्टी को पकड़ते हैं जो समर्थन के लिए प्रवेश द्वार को द्विभाजित करती है। प्रत्येक स्टेशन पर, सवारी वाहन के रुकने से पहले प्लेटफॉर्म पर कूद जाते हैं, ट्रेन के साथ कुछ मीटर जॉगिंग करते हैं और फिर धीमी गति से चलते हैं। हम माहिम जंक्शन पहुँचते हैं; मैं गाड़ी से बाहर निकलता हूँ और ट्रेन को उत्तर की ओर धुंध में खोते हुए देखता हूं।

मैंने इस यात्रा के बाद लगभग आधा साल, सोमवार से शुक्रवार तक, घनी उष्णकटिबंधीय गर्मी में बिताया। एक शौकिया परिवहन उत्साही और नवोदित विद्वान होते हुए, महानगर की सभी चीज़ों से ज़्यादा, मुंबई की लोकल ट्रेनों ने मुझे आकर्षित किया । इस प्रणाली ने डेढ़ सदी से अधिक समय तक शहर की संचार प्रणाली के रूप में कार्य किया है। सब्सिडाइज्ड किराए से सभी सामाजिक-आर्थिक पृष्ठभूमि के मुंबईवासियों को लोकल ट्रैन इस्तेमाल करने का मौका मिलता है । इसकी विशिष्टताएं पौराणिक हैं।। अनगिनत बॉलीवुड फिल्मों में भीड़-भाड़ वाली लोकल ट्रेनों में लटके लोगों के क्लिप होते हैं। पात्र अक्सर वाहनों के अचूक पिंजरे जैसे  हिस्सों में मिलते हैं। मुंबई की लोकल ट्रैन गेटवे ऑफ इंडिया, ताज महल पैलेस होटल और मरीन ड्राइव की आर्ट डेको वाली इमारतें के सामान शहर का प्रतीक हैं । हालांकि, यह खामियों के बिना नहीं है।

मुंबई की लोकल ट्रेनों का सुरक्षा रिकॉर्ड बेहद खराब है। भारत की सरकारी रेलवे पुलिस के मुताबिक 2019 में नेटवर्क के अंदर 2691 लोगों की मृत्यु  हुई थी। इसके अलावा 3194 लोग घायल हुए थे। यह संख्या अन्य शहरों में अकल्पनीय होगी। चलती गाड़ियों से गिरना और  प्लेटफार्मों के बीच से पार करने वाले लोग इन मृत्युओं के मुख्य कारण हैं। स्टेशनों पर जाते समय चलती वाहनों से कूदने से भी लोग घायल हो जाते हैं। भीड़भाड़ ने घंटों की यात्रा को यात्रियों के लिए दुःस्वप्न बना दिया है। गाड़ियों को दो वर्गों में बांटा गया है। प्रथम और द्वितीय श्रेणी में बहुत अधिक अंतर नहीं हैं, लेकिन प्रथम श्रेणी के टिकट की कीमत द्वितीय श्रेणी के किराए से लगभग दस गुना अधिक हैं, जिससे ऐसी स्थिति उत्पन्न होती है जहाँ द्वितीय श्रेणी में अत्यधिक भीड़ होती है और पहले में बहुत अधिक जगह होती है। सिस्टम की सभी विलक्षण और आदर्श धारणाएं खुली ट्रेन के दरवाजे से बाहर निकलती हैं, और यह अहसास होता है कि इस प्रणाली को किसी प्रकार के अपग्रेड सेट की आवश्यकता है।  स्थानीय ट्रेन प्रणाली में एक सीमित सेवा क्षेत्र है। मुंबई में रहने वाली एक युवा पेशेवर, श्रुतिका मणिवन्नन, लोकल ट्रेनों से यात्रा करती हैं, लेकिन सिस्टम की अपेक्षाकृत खराब कनेक्टिविटी पर प्रकाश डाला,”लोकल ट्रेन बड़ी दूरी के लिए सुविधाजनक है क्योंकि यह मुझे यात्रा के समय की बचत करती है, लेकिन मैं इसे छोटी दूरियों के लिए टालती हूँ क्योंकि स्टेशन तक पहुंचने में कुछ समय लगता है”।

इस दबाव को कम करने के लिए, मुंबई ने एक नई मेट्रो प्रणाली बनाने के लिए एक महत्वाकांक्षी परियोजना शुरू की है। यह परियोजना कई मुंबईवासियों के अपने शहर से गुजरने के तरीके को पूरी तरह से बदल देगी। यह लोकल ट्रेनों के लिए एक सुरक्षित, अधिक आरामदायक विकल्प का वादा करती है। नए नेटवर्क में अंततः दस लाइनें शामिल होंगी और दोनों का उद्देश्य उन क्षेत्रों की सेवा करना है जहां वर्तमान में स्थानीय ट्रेन की पहुंच नहीं है या फिर लोकल ट्रैन के अलावा एक और विकल्प प्रदान करती हैं । मुंबई मेट्रोपॉलिटन रीजन डेवलपमेंट अथॉरिटी (एम. एम. आर. डी. ए.) के अनुसार, पूरा सिस्टम लगभग 190 किलोमीटर तक फैला होगा।  व्यापक शहरी रेलवे नेटवर्क हासिल करके, मुंबई सडकों पर निजी वाहनों की संख्या में कमी देखने की उम्मीद भी रखता है। अभी तक, केवल एक परिचालन लाइन, लाइन वन है। लाइन वन एक पूर्व-पश्चिम गैलरी में चलती है जिसमें पहले रेलवे कनेक्शन नहीं था और तीन लोकल ट्रेन लाइनों में से दो के बीच महत्वपूर्ण स्थानांतरण स्टेशन प्रदान करती है। इसका निर्माण पब्लिक प्राइवेट पार्टनरशिप के माध्यम से किया गया था, जिसमें रिलायंस एनर्जी लिमिटेड की 69% हिस्सेदारी थी। इस परियोजना की लागत लगभग 43०० करोड़ रुपये थी और सेवा 2014 में शुरू हुई थी। लाइन वन लेकर अन्य लाइनों पर सवार के अनुभव की जानकारी मिलती है।

मैंने पहली बार 2018 की शरद ऋतु में एक जॉब साइट पर पहुंचने के लिए लाइन वन की सवारी की। एक सहकर्मी और मैं उमस भरी दोपहर में हमारे धारावी कोलीवाड़ा के कार्यालय से सायन स्टेशन तक गए । भीड़-भाड़ का समय अभी शुरू ही हुआ था, और हम मध्य रेलवे की वाहन  में सवार हो गए, जैसे ही वह प्लेटफार्म पर पहुंची । हम पूरी यात्रा के लिए दरवाजों के पास रहे- वाहन  में आगे जाने का मतलब यात्रियों की लगातार बढ़ती भीड़ के पीछे फंसना हो सकता है। हमने ट्रेन को लाइन वन के पूर्वी टर्मिनस घाटकोपर पर छोड़ा और मेट्रो के लिए संकेतों का पालन किया। आखिरकार, हम उज्ज्वल और शानदार मेट्रो स्टेशन पर पहुँचे। हम टिकट खिड़की तक गए, वहां इलेक्ट्रॉनिक टोकन खरीदे और उन्हें टर्नस्टाइल पर चिप रीडर के सामने लगाया । गेट खुल गए और हमने प्लेटफार्म तक एस्क्लेटर ले लिया । हमारे सिर के ऊपर लगे एलसीडी पैनल ने हमें बताया कि अगली ट्रेन सिर्फ दो मिनट में रवाना होगी। जल्द ही, हम वातानुकूलित ट्रेन में चढ़कर बैठ गए। हमने मेट्रो से बाहर शहर को अपने नीचे से गुज़रता देखा और दस मिनट के भीतर, अपने गंतव्य पर पहुंच गए।

बाद में कई बार मैंने लाइन वन की सवारी की, सभी एक साथ मिश्रित होते हैं- लाइन का उपयोग करना सुखद और सीधा है। इस नई प्रणाली में लोकल ट्रेनों की विशेषताओं का अभाव है और यह कभी भी शहरी पहचान का केंद्रबिंदु नहीं हो सकता है, जो लोकल ट्रेनें कई मुंबईवासियों के लिए हैं। लेकिन, यह निस्संदेह नेटवर्क पर जगह खाली कर देगा और ड्राइवरों को निजी वाहनों के साथ आने-जाने का एक व्यवहार्य विकल्प दे सकता है। सबसे महत्वपूर्ण बात यह है कि मेट्रो की बढ़ी हुई सुरक्षा अधिक मुंबईवासियों को कम से कम डर के साथ जीने की अनुमति देगी।

कार्ल एडलर साइंस पो पेरिस में मास्टर के छात्र हैं और इंटरनेशनल ट्रांसपोर्ट फोरम में इंटर्नशिप कर रहे हैं।

2022 के अंत तक मुंबई की मेट्रो की कई अतिरिक्त लाइनों के चालू होने की उम्मीद है।

इंटरनेशनल ट्रांसपोर्ट फोरम दो परियोजनाओं पर भारत में परिवहन को डीकार्बोनाइजिंग पर काम करता है:

डार्बोनिसिंग ट्रांसपोर्ट इन इमर्जिंग इकनोमीस (डीटीईई) – भारत परियोजना का उद्देश्य भारत सरकार और अन्य हितधारकों को परिवहन उपायों की पहचान करने और परिवहन सीओ 2 उत्सर्जन को कम करने और अपने जलवायु लक्ष्यों और एनडीसी को पूरा करने के लिए मार्ग स्थापित करने में मदद करता है । और अधिक जानें

एशिया के लिए एनडीसी ट्रांसपोर्ट इनिशिएटिव (एनडीसी-टीआईए) का उद्देश्य विभिन्न क्षेत्रों के मंत्रालयों, नागरिक समाज और निजी क्षेत्र के बीच समन्वयित परिवहन के लिए प्रभावी नीतियों की एक सुसंगत रणनीति को बढ़ावा देना है। और अधिक जानें

A New Mode: The Metro and Mumbai

Mumbai is in the midst of an infrastructure makeover. Drawing on his fieldwork in the city, Carl Adler looks at how new transport modes in India’s financial capital will reshape the metropolis.

हिंदी संस्करण पर जाएं

Hanging out: Mumbai Suburban Railway moves over 7 million commuters daily

I wake up, get ready, go outside and walk the kilometre or so to Churchgate. I weave between thigh-height bollards and lengths of fence that constrict the footpath and occasional gaps in pavement. There is no optimal height at which to fix my gaze to avoid impediments to movement; there are surprises everywhere here, and the entire scene requires full attention. Eventually, I reach Churchgate. I bought a monthly pass for between here and Bandra, so I do not have to wait in the queue snaking out from the ticket window. I will not have to do so for another three weeks. I walk through the metal detector at the end of the long white corridor and look out at the wide purple trains sitting snugly in their berths.

Each train rests under a display with big green numbers and letters that indicate when a train is leaving, where it will stop and where it will end up. This code is simple, but cracking it all those months ago made me feel a little bit more like I belonged here. Now I don’t even need to think about it. I walk to the train under the sign that tells me it does not run express, that it goes to Andheri, and that it is leaving sooner than the others. I enter the carriage and flip a switch near my seat to turn on the overhead fan. Within thirty seconds, we depart. The doors do not close, but this is normal. Over my twenty-five-minute-or-so commute to Mahim Junction, the crowd in my car swells and people stand beside those open doors, gripping the texturised vertical metal bar which bisects the entrance for support. At each station, riders jump onto the platform before the vehicle stops, jogging alongside the train for a few metres and slowing to a walk. We reach Mahim Junction; I exit the carriage and watch the train pull north into the haze.

I spent nearly half a year following this commute, Monday through Friday, in the thick tropical heat. As an amateur transport enthusiast and budding scholar, Mumbai’s local trains stole my attention more than anything else in the metropolis. The system has served as the city’s circulatory system for over a century and a half. Subsidised fares allow access to Mumbaikers from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Its idiosyncrasies are the stuff of legend. Countless Bollywood films feature clips of people hanging out of crowded local trains. Characters often meet in the unmistakable cage-like interiors of cars. Mumbai’s local train system is as emblematic of the city as the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the Art Deco facades along Marine Drive. It is, however, not without its flaws. 

2.64 billion Mumbai Suburban Railway’s annual riders arguably rate service as the worst anywhere in the world

Mumbai’s local trains have an abysmal safety record. According to India’s Government Railway Police, 2,691 people died within the network in 2019. In addition, 3,194 people were injured. These numbers would be unthinkable in other cities. Falls from moving carriages and people crossing between platforms at rail level are the main causes of these fatalities. People also sustain injuries from jumping from moving cars as they pull into stations. Crowdedness makes rush hour travel a nightmare for commuters. Carriages are broken down into two classes. First and second class do not have many material differences, but first-class ticket prices are around ten times as high as second-class fares, leading to situations where there is intense congestion in second class and a great deal of space in first. All romantic and idealised notions of the system fly out the open train doors on crushing weekday mornings, and the realisation that this system needs some sort of an upgrade sets in. Finally, the local train system has a limited service area. Shrutika Manivannan, a young professional based in Mumbai, commutes with local trains but highlighted the system’s relatively poor connectivity. “[The local train is] convenient for large distances because it saves me on commute time, but I avoid it for shorter ones considering reaching the station itself takes some time”.

“I want my travel to be super cool and modern,” say Mumbaikers on the move

To ease some of this pressure, Mumbai has embarked on an ambitious project to build a new metro system. This project will completely change the way many Mumbaikers move through their city. It promises a safer, more comfortable alternative to local trains. The new network will eventually include ten lines and aims both to serve areas that do not currently have local train access and provide an alternative to some local train routes. According to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the completed system will stretch over nearly 190 km. By having a more comprehensive urban railway network, Mumbai also hopes to see a reduction in the number of private vehicles on the road. As of now, there is only one operational line, Line One. Line One serves an east-west corridor that did not previously have a railway connection and provides important transfer points between two of the three local train lines. It was constructed through a Public-Private Partnership, with Reliance Energy Limited holding a 69% stake. The project cost about INR 43 billion, and service began in 2014. Riding Line One gives insight into what rider experiences on other lines will be like.

I first rode Line One in the autumn of 2018 in order to reach a job site. A colleague and I walked through the humid afternoon from our office in Dharavi Koliwada to Sion station. Rush hour had just begun, and we crammed into the Central Railways car when it pulled up to the platform. We stayed near the doors for the whole trip- going further into the car could have meant getting stuck behind the ever-swelling mass of commuters. We left the train at Ghatkopar, Line One’s eastern terminus, and followed the signs for the metro. Eventually, we reached the bright and polished metro station. We walked to the ticket window, bought our electronic tokens and waved them in front of the chip reader on the turnstiles. The gates opened and we took the escalator up to the platform. The LCD panels above our heads told us the next train would depart in just two minutes. Soon, we stepped onto the air-conditioned train and sat down. We watched the city roll underneath us and, within ten minutes, had reached our destination.

Turning point: The Mumbai Metro in action

The many subsequent times I have ridden Line One all blend together- using the line is pleasant and straightforward. This new system lacks the local trains’ quirks and it may never be the centrepiece of urban identity that local trains are for many Mumbaikers. But, it will undoubtedly free up space on the network and it may give drivers a viable alternative to commuting with private vehicles. Most importantly, the metro’s enhanced safety will allow more Mumbaikers to live with at least a little less fear.

Carl Adler is a Master student at Sciences Po Paris and is working on an internship at the International Transport Forum.

Several additional lines of Mumbai’s metro are expected to be operational by the end of 2022.

The International Transport Forum works on decarbonising transport in India over two projects:

The Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE) – India project aims to help India’s government and other stakeholders to identify transport measures and establish pathways to reduce transport CO2 emissions and meet their climate goals and NDCs. Learn more

The NDC Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA) aims at promoting a coherent strategy of effective policies for decarbonising transport that are co-ordinated among various sector ministries, civil society and the private sector. Learn more

Building back inclusive, low-carbon mobility in Latin American Cities

To mark this week’s Transforming Transportation Conference 2022 on the theme “Climate-Centered Mobility for a Sustainable Recovery”, Ernesto Monter Flores and Stephen Perkins reveal urban changes in Latin America that maximise pandemic disruptions and allow more livable cities.

Better biking: Covid pushed the creation of new bike paths in Bogotá, Colombia

The Covid-19 pandemic saw demand for transport drop significantly. Demand has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, and urban mobility patterns might show a long-term impact. There could be fewer daily commutes to work for some types of employment, increased delivery traffic seems here to stay, and we should be able to capitalise on the gains made in active mobility.

Recovery from the pandemic requires investment that creates an opportunity to rethink mobility and accelerate progress on our strategic objectives, especially decarbonisation and inclusion. Decarbonising transport will not only reduce CO2 emissions but can create green jobs and will rely on more inclusive mobility. It poses challenges, however, in financing the transition and ensuring the financial sustainability of transport systems. 

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Transport Forum (ITF) recently concluded a study on the most effective measures to decarbonise transport in three cities in Latin America; Bogotá, Buenos Aires and Mexico City (PDF link). These cities are each unique in terms of the legacy infrastructure, financing and service delivery models that today’s mobility is built on, but each is implementing ambitious programs to promote cycling, walking, ride-sharing, electric vehicles and public transport. 

The joint study evaluates the potential of the mobility policies pursued by each city to cut CO2 emissions. The work uses a data-driven methodology designed by ITF, adjusted for each city with input from stakeholders, and developed in collaboration with the city mobility authorities.

The ITF’s Decarbonising Transport in Latin American Cities project: helping policy makers in Bogotá, Buenos Aires and Mexico City to achieve their CO2 reduction ambitions for the transport sector

The fundamental priority for each city is to deliver safer, more equitable and inclusive mobility. But there are strong linkages between decarbonisation and interventions to create safe and secure environments for vulnerable users and improve public transport and active mobility options. Indeed without these initiatives, electrification will not be sufficient to meet climate targets. The challenge is to scale up interventions well beyond current ambitions in each of the cities.

Basic investments are critical: in sidewalks protected from cars; in surfaced roads in peripheral suburbs so that buses can reach them; in maintenance of roads to be safe for cyclists; and in providing partially separated space for cycling. Particular attention needs to be paid to the approaches to public transport stops so that pedestrians can access buses and Bus rapid transit (BRT) safely, without dangerous crowding dangerous carriageway crossings.

Bogotá has long invested in safe cycling infrastructure and has much the highest share of cycling in daily trips among the cities. Biking is used for commuting across Bogotá’s population, not just for the young in wealthier quarters of the city. The one benefit of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the accelerated extension of protected cycling networks in all three cities. Temporary cycle lanes were established rapidly to cope with the shutdown of public transport systems during lock-downs. And most of these lanes are now being made permanent.

Tempus fugit: Mexico City’s informal microbuses don’t always move when you want

Public transport accounts for the largest share of daily trips in all of the cities; over a third in Bogotá and Buenos Aires and two thirds of trips in Mexico City. Buses and BRT account for most of the heavy mass transit services in all three cities, but in Mexico City half of all public transport trips are on microbuses. Microbuses operate under an incomplete regulatory framework that fails to control routes, frequency and quality of service. Services are inefficient, overcrowded and slow as drivers wait to pack in passengers before departing. Travelling from the periphery to centres of employment requires several changes. This can represent a significant share of daily wages even though fares are controlled and low in relation to operating costs.

The city is introducing GPS tracking to keep operators to agreed routes and investing in better public transport exchange stations. But more fundamental concession reform will be required for increased investment and to achieve the levels of planning control over routes and service quality of a city like Buenos Aires.

The key to making journeys better for the worst-off commuters is direct public transport from the periphery to the centre, where employment opportunities are concentrated. Providing targeted, time-based subsidies for the poorest users is also effective, as Bogotá’s Sisben travel card system demonstrates, even if it has difficulty in reaching citizens on the most precarious incomes. Targeted support has proven more effective than capping fares at low levels, which tends to drive a vicious cycle of underinvestment and declining quality.

Funding public transport is always challenging. A combination of fare revenue, general taxation and local property or business taxes is usually needed for operation and especially investment. The impact of Covid-19 on operator revenues is forcing authorities worldwide to look again at how they fund public transport to attract more car users and meet climate goals. Contributions from commercial property development is part of the answer. Examples range from Mexico City’s under-used provisions for betterment charges to London’s developer contributions, currently being used to fund extensions to metro lines.

Sparking innovation: Santiago de Chile’s electric buses thrive thanks to public-private partnerships

Looking beyond the three cities, Chile reconcessioned the bus services in Santiago during the period of study, building on the successful regulatory models of Singapore and London. Ownership of the vehicle fleets has been separated from the concessions to run services, which are let for short periods through competition. This has allowed electric utilities to invest in electric buses, rapidly establishing the continent’s biggest electric bus fleet. Bogotá has increasingly ambitious electrification plans. On the other hand, Mexico City has focused on upgrading and expanding its small existing electric trolley bus system. This is the right place to focus initially. However, the scale of electrification needed to decarbonise transport, in step with decarbonising power production, will require finance of the scale achieved in Santiago.

Urban transport demand is expected to grow 3.5-fold in Latin America to 2050. Under existing policies to shift travel to public transport and active travel, improve vehicle fuel economy, and electrify mobility, CO2 emissions may ‘only’ increase 1.7-fold. While this is encouraging, it is not in line with the global objective of reducing CO2 emissions to a level that will limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees. Emissions in the three cities have to fall by much more.  

Fast forward: Watch the ITF’s Transport Outlook team’s projections for transport demand to 2050

This requires investment to expand bus, BRT, metro and rail systems to reach the periphery with good quality services. Public transport electrification must be scaled-up alongside sales of electric cars, funded through taxation and innovative financing partnerships of the kind used in Santiago. Policies to manage demand for car use and reallocate road space to public transport and active mobility will also be critical. The rapid expansion of protected space for cycling in the three cities during the pandemic is a highly successful precursor of what is to come.

The policies pursued in Bogotá, Buenos Aires and Mexico City for safe, inclusive and environmentally sustainable mobility are effective. But they need scaling up if they are to match climate ambitions, and for that they need sustainable funding.

Ernesto Monter Flores is Principal Transport Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank.

Stephen Perkins is Head of Research and Policy Analysis at the International Transport Forum

Further reading:

Decarbonising Transport in Latin American Cities: A Review of Policies and Key Challenges

Decarbonising Transport in Latin American Cities: Assessing Scenarios

Wheels of Fortune: Riding High on Cycling’s Second Golden Age

With the bike industry posting record results, we take a spin around what’s afoot to assess whether pedal power is here to stay.

By Selwyn Parker

The Starley Rover launched cycling’s first golden age in 1885

Just around the corner from my apartment in the city of Perth, Scotland, is a little bike store that is now in its 115th year of business. In all that time, the shop has had just three owners – the founder who retired after nearly 50 years and a former RAF pilot who handed it on to his son. And the store has never been as busy – “every day is like Christmas”, the owner told me.

For a variety of reasons, we are witnessing the second golden age of the bicycle, more than a century after the first, as the most efficient form of transport ever devised makes a glittering comeback from relative neglect.

“The bicycle is seeing an extraordinary cultural revolution,” predicted Virgille Caillet, director general of France’s Union Sport & Cycle, as the revival was gathering speed two years ago.

The evidence for his view is mounting. In Britain alone a new bicycle is sold every ten seconds. Many cities are rapidly expanding their traffic-free cycling lanes, like Mexico City which is working on a four-fold increase that may become permanent after the pandemic. Since 2020, Bogota’s Ciclovia initiative has taken cars off a designated 560-km network of roads every single day instead of just the one. In the Czech Republic, the Rekola bike-rental system has been extended to five cities, while Madrid recently added 50 stations to bring its total to 250. Moscow’s bike-share programme, in its seventh year of operation, now accounts for over five million trips a year.

From a single Sunday to all-year-round: Bogotá’s “Ciclovía”

And that’s just outside. During the lockdowns, millions of exercise-starved people jumped on static bicycles. In fact, never in human history have so many people spent so many hours pedalling nowhere as fast as they could. According to UK industry newsletter BikeBiz, manufacturers of indoor bikes experienced a 440% week-on-week increase in orders through much of the pandemic. At the same time, subscriptions to virtual cycling sites like Zwift, Peloton, BigRingVR went through the roof. Currently, Peloton alone claims 1.67 million members, up by 25% since the first quarter of 2021.

Although they were not going anywhere, many indoor cyclists did a lot of good for others as well as their health, like Londoner Jacob Hill-Gowing, who raised EUR 17 500 for a worthy cause by riding 3 500 kilometres over 41 days in a one-bedroom flat.

Le Tour de Flat: Jacob Hill-Gowing pedals through the pandemic

The industry is celebrating, like Japanese giant Shimano that expects net group profit to jump by nearly 50% compared with 2020. “The global cycling market has expanded by 40% to 50% since 2019 owing to the effects of the pandemic,” explains president Taizo Shimano.

It is not just the pandemic, though, that is putting people back in the saddle. The rapid development of the e-bike is proving transformational, enabling even the relatively unfit to ride almost anywhere they want. Today’s models are lighter (down to 11kg in the latest releases), more sophisticated and more manageable than the clunky versions of a decade ago. At up to EUR 4 000 each, e-bikes outsell standard machines by up to three times, according to the industry. Official figures from a variety of European cycling bodies predict annual e-bike sales to more than quadruple to 17 million by 2030, way more than vehicles.

Battery-assisted bikes also threaten to revolutionise the delivery industry. As the batteries have got more powerful and lighter, a new wave of cargo bikes is emerging. As Velo-city 2021 – the cycling conference in Lisbon in September – will confirm in a session entitled Exploring the endless potential of cargo bikes, they are roughly 60% faster than vans in the more congested city centres, allowing them to deliver ten parcels an hour compared with six for vans, according to a study in London. As a not-insignificant bonus, they also slash emissions by 90% compared with diesel-fuelled vans.

And they are much cheaper – the latest models cost around  EUR 3 400, carry up to 80kg at a battery-assisted top speed of 25km an hour, and cover nearly 60km without a recharge. Little wonder then that many European cities offer fat subsidies for cargo bikes, with Germany’s Brandenburg topping the table at EUR 4 000.

Low-carbon London cargo

The big question is whether a pandemic-induced boom in cycling will fizzle out. UK’s Bicycle Association, the official industry body, is in no doubt. “Our data suggests the UK consumer has rediscovered their love of cycling – the trajectory is set for long-term growth,” predicts its latest report. A happy confluence of transformational factors in the form of improved technology, climate-change activism and a renewed focus on personal health in the wake of the pandemic suggests this observation is correct.

As bicycle historians know, the first golden age started in 1885 when the Starley Rover appeared. Known as the “ordinary”, it was revolutionary because of its diamond-shaped frame, equal-sized wheels and, eventually, air-filled tyres. Almost overnight, the invention changed people’s lives by giving them the freedom to travel far at several times the speed of walking.

Today’s bicycles, which are essentially still ordinaries in design, promise to give people back that same sense of adventure.

Selwyn Parker is an independent journalist and author of Chasing the Chimney Sweep about the first Tour de France of 1903.

Subscribe to information from ITF, including on active modes and new mobility

ITF Resources:

Re-spacing Our Cities For Resilience (PDF): React, reboot and rethink – how cities can meet this triple challenge to continue as catalysts for creative social and economic activity despite new health imperatives.

Best Practice for Urban Road Safety: Seven case studies of cities that are implementing data-driven road safety policies to protecting vulnerable road users in Barcelona, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Fortaleza, London, New York and Rotterdam.

Safe Micromobility: What are the safety implications of e-scooters and other forms of micromobility in cities. The report considers a range of actions to make urban traffic with micromobility safe, including in street layout, vehicle design and vehicle operation, user education and enforcement of rules.

Travel Transitions: How Transport Planners and Policy Makers Can Respond to Shifting Mobility Trends

Integrating Urban Public Transport Systems and Cycling

Cycling Safety

Born out of need: How the Global South is driving transport innovation

By Will Duncan

The world’s emerging nations are fertile ground for radical and creative mobility solutions. Government-supported innovation is helping the Global South become a leading force in the future of transport.

RT-Mart electric bus in China | Photo: Mars Hartdegen/Flickr

The transport sector is moving quickly these days. New technologies, shared services, and GPS are changing how we get from A to B. But perhaps one of the most interesting trends in transport is where, exactly, these innovations are coming from.

“The future of transport is in the Global South’s hands,” says Bambang Susantono, former transport minister of Malaysia and now vice-president of the Asian Development Bank.

It’s easy to see why: Twenty-seven of the world’s 33 megacities are in the Global South — a term that describes low- and middle-income countries in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Extraordinary economic growth and rapid urbanisation have brought sudden change to the Global South. With progress comes a host of challenges — and, first among these is transport.

But need begets innovation. And thus, the assumption that innovation flows from rich to less prosperous regions, from industrialised to developing countries, from the northern to the southern hemisphere is being challenged. Inspiration for tomorrow’s transport solutions can be found in the Global South’s emerging nations by those who care to look.

Decades ahead

Take shared mobility. No other topic preoccupies city officials, transport planners and entrepreneurs in the industrialised North today as much as the question of how to get more than one person into a car built for four or more.

In the South, it’s been a reality for decades. “Shared mobility is everywhere when I travel cities as a global researcher,” says Fábio Duarte, Professor of Urban Planning in Curitiba, Brazil. “I take taxis in Brasília, hold on tight to ojek motorcycles in Jakarta, or figure out how to reach my destinations with matatus in Nairobi.”

Durante says that “thinking of shared mobility as a novelty is a narrow view held in the Global North”. It ignores the creative ways that societies with few cars and inadequate public transport are coping with the lack of options.

WhereIsMyTransport, a UK start-up, secured USD 1.5 million in funding in 2016 to create an accessible and accurate data service for Cape Town’s formal and informal transport routes. Informal shared minibus routes make up a significant proportion of the city’s commutes, which is typical of many cities outside of Europe and North America. WhereIsMyTransport’s digital map has made these services visible. They’re presented as complimentary or, for all intents and purposes, equivalent to any other way to get around the city.

After securing further investment, the company has expanded its data and mapping service throughout Latin America and Asia. A recent project saw informal transport in Mexico City mapped to include over 30 000 informal minibus routes.

Formal and informal transport networks in Gauteng, South Africa. Source: WhereIsMyTransport

The South is electric

Electric mobility is another example. Despite ambitious pledges, the share of electric vehicles in the Global North remains marginal: just 2.5% of 2018 car sales in the UK were electric, 2.1% in France, and 1% in Japan. Only Norway stands out, with just under 49.1%.

The world leader in electric mobility today is China. Almost 99% of all electric buses and two-wheelers, and 40% of the world’s total of private electric cars can be found there.

This hasn’t happened by accident. The electric mobility revolution that is sweeping the Peoples’ Republic is the result of deliberate government policy. Beijing’s regulatory push mixes substantial investment into research and development, and strict emissions standards designed to force out internal combustion engines with targeted subsidies that have reduced risk for transport operators looking to adapt to the new cleaner technology. Thus, research, industry, and government are steered towards a prevailing direction, turning the country into a world market leader.

Both national legislation and city halls are in a position to provide the “enabling framework” for healthy competition, innovative ideas, and for market disruptions with the potential to greatly benefit citizens.

Emerging nations find themselves with greater freedom to innovate, as they tend to be less restricted by the historical legacies of some more developed countries. “Developing countries can break the mould of traditional transport,” says Susantono. ”The Asian car market is less wedded to internal combustion engines; hence the region now has the largest share of e-vehicles worldwide,” Susantono explains. “In this dynamic, governments of the Global South can be the leaders of change.”

In a further article looking into transport innovation in the Global South, we take Indonesia’s Gojek as a case study and examine Southeast Asia’s bustling on-demand transport market.


To learn more about global transport innovation, check out the ITF Corporate Partnership Board’s new report Expanding Innovation Horizons: Learning from transport solutions in the Global South.

Will Duncan is currently studying a Master in Public Policy at Sciences Po in Paris, and is an intern at the International Transport Forum at the OECD.


How to be a lifesaver: Three simple things to do that will make city roads less deadly

by Hans Michael Kloth, Internatinal Transport Forum

Today  is European Day Without A Road Death, or EDWARD for short. Well, it isn’t really. By the end of today, 21 September 2017, the lives of 70 people will have been lost  in traffic crashes, as every day in the European Union.

And Europe is doing well in comparison. Of the almost 1.25 million annual road deaths worldwide, 90% occur in the poorer countries of Africa, Asia and South America. Even in countries that have been highly successful in improving road safety in the past, such as Sweden, the number of traffic fatalities has been rising again recently. In 2015, the 31 member countries of the International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) for which data are consistently available registered a 3.3% increase in road fatalities  compared to 2014, and 2016 figures again show an upward trend for 14 of these.

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Memorial for a cyclists killed in a road crash, Manchester 2013 (Photo: Grey World/Flickr cc by)

What can we do as individuals to help turn the tide on road deaths? EDWARD provides an important reminder that being a lifesaver is actually not that difficult. So here are three simple things that you can do to protect yourself and others in traffic – one each for cyclists, one for motorists, and one for mayors.

Giv’em a sign!

The group that experts call “vulnerable road users” is at particular risk on the road. The share of elderly (65+ years) among road fatalities, for instance, outstrips their share of the population by as much as 2:1. Also vulnerable are cyclists, which are a fast growing group of road users as cities try to encourage sustainable forms of transport.

Unlike pedestrians, who are somewhat protected by urban space dedicated to their use (a.k.a. sidewalks), cyclists are usually forced to cohabit with cars. Invariably, crashes between these two unequal parties happen, and, equally invariably, they end with injuries or worse for cyclists while the car barely shows a scratch.

“Wear a helmet”, is one often-heard counsel. Head injuries from cycling crashes are common, usually severe and often deadly, and to reduce your individual risk of severe injury in case you bang into something, there is nothing better than wearing a helmet. On the other hand there’s the problem of compensation (riders taking extra risks and cars being more aggressive as both factor in the protection). There is a huge, emotional debate around helmets that sometimes obscures a simple truth: They are great for preventing the worst when something bad happens, but do nothing for preventing something bad to occur in the first place.

Signalling a left turn, alternate signals for a right turn, and indicating the intention to stop (Illustration: Shutterstock)

For active safety, therefore, try something truly simple, no matter what your position on helmets is: When you take a turn, make a sign. I started indicating with my stretched-out arm a year ago, after I caught myself cursing at a car that had put me in a tight spot by not indicating, and then realised I was being a little hypocritical. Since, I have made signaling my moves a cycling habit, and the enhanced sense of safety I have felt when biking through the sometimes mad traffic of Paris has been reassuring and a refreshing exprience.

Predictability really is the best friend of safety. Simply doing things in a way that enables others to anticipate your behaviour empowers them to adjust their own ways and avoid dangerous situations based on misreading each other. I’ve heard others say that indicating turns can create dangerous situations because the cyclist has less control when riding with just one hand on the bar. I found the opposite to be as true – one hand off the handle forces you to slow down, and  it becomes impossible to weave through traffic, one of the more dangerous cycling practices.

Reach out the Dutch way

Anyone who has watched this video will appreciate why cyclists live in mortal fear of car doors. It’s an almost daily experience for anyone who rides a bicycle through a city: a driver or passenger opens the car door without checking whether anyone is approaching from behind. At the very least, the cyclist will be forced to veer into traffic and risk being hit; in the worst case, with no time to react they will  slam into the door like into a knife. In June, the case of a Saudi diplomat made headlines when he killed a 55-year old cyclist in Berlin with the door of his Porsche. Statistics are rare, but the UK for instance experienced 1.3 “dooring” incidents on average every single day of  2015.

So what can you do as a motorist to avoid knocking down someone else with your door? Open it using the “Dutch Reach”. This way of opening car doors has been practiced in the Netherlands for half a century. In fact it is part of  training when you get your driver’s licence there. How does it work? Simply grab the door handle with the far hand, not with the one on the side of the door. This  forces your body to swivel towards the door and your field of vision will  automatically include the rear view mirror as well a the area besides and immediately behind your car. It’s a simple routine that requires minimal change of behaviour but can prevent human tragedies on our streets. (The video above explains how it works).

Degrees of separation

Many cities are investing heavily into more cycling paths and infrastructure that will encourage urbanites to walk and cycle. The “active modes” of transport help citizens stay healthy, reduce pollution, unclog the streets and generally make cities more attractive, inclusive, livable. Yet the urban road system was never designed for mixing well-protected, heavy and high-velocity vehicles with unprotected, lightweight and slower bicycles. It follows logically that they are best separated to avoid conflict, as is the case with cars and pedestrians.

Cycle lane in London (Photo: Ron Enslin/Flickr cc by)

Yet there are very different ways to do this. Some options can be rolled out quickly and are inexpensive, but ultimately provide only a semblance of separation and thus safety. It’s a step in the right direction to paint a blue or red or green strip with a white bicycle icon along the kerbside of a street. But that won’t keep a car or van or truck  from veering onto the bicycle lane whenever the driver chooses (or is forced to). Some cities learned the hard way what the cost of expanding the cycling network in a rush can be. In London, no less than six cyclists killed in crashes in a space of two weeks in November 2013.

Instead of spending money on paint, mayors might invest in stone and cement, and install physical separators between car and bike lanes. People who have never cycled before will not take to the bicycle unless they feel safe from cars. Bright colours alone will not give them that feeling, a physical barrier between them cars will. When I cycle to work, I use a route that is slightly longer, simply because it has a segregated bicycle lane with a 20 centimetre high concrete barrier – that’s all it needs. At ITF we will be holding a Roundtable to discuss just what works best in January, in the context of Safer City Streets, a global network of cities that work together on improving urban road safety – stay tuned for details.

Paris bicycle lane with separator (Photo: Jean-Louis Zimmermann/Flickr cc by)

A day without a road death in Europe is still some way off. But an encouraging number of European cities have actually achieved the remarkable feat of having not a single road death in a whole year or even longer. There must be something these communities are doing right. It may not necessarily have been a high-profile, high-cost road safety initiative, but perhaps a mixture of little common sense things consistently applied. So let’s not stop taking the small steps that will get us there eventually. Whether you cycle, drive a car, run a city, all three, or nothing of those: think about what you can do to help overcome the scourge of road deaths – every day, not just on EDWARD.


Hans Michael Kloth cycles to work and occasionally drives a car on week-ends. He is Head of Communications of the the International Transport Forum

“The future of transport is electric”

Jochen Eickholt Siemens Mobility CEOJochen Eickholt, the CEO of Siemens Mobility, talks about electric highways and bus networks and creating cities full of sensors that link up cars with their surroundings.

One of your projects at Siemens is electrifying motorways, so electric trucks can be used for long-distance freight, without even requiring batteries. Why are you convinced that the “eHighway”, as you call it, is the future of road freight?

Transport remains the last sector where fossil fuel dependency has not been substantially mitigated, making it a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. Electric mobility offers a variety of benefits here, including improved local air quality, fuel diversification into renewable sources to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and increased energy efficiency to lower operating costs. The eHighway combines resource-efficient railway technology with the flexibility of road transport.

How does this work in practice?

The adapted hybrid trucks are supplied with electricity from overhead contact lines. An active pantograph can automatically connect and disconnect with the contact line at speeds up to 90 km/h. The direct transmission of electric energy ensures an outstanding efficiency of 80 to 85 per cent from substation in-feed to the wheel. This is twice as high as that of conventional diesel engines. The eHighway also makes it possible to recover braking energy and store it on-board. It can also feed other trucks operating on the system or even feed the electricity back into the public grid. These energy savings translate into even higher system efficiency, lower emissions, and lower energy consumption. High efficiency is the backbone of future road freight transport as well as decarbonisation.

Talking about electric mobility, would you agree that it will play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions of  passenger transport?

The future of transport is electric, whether by rail or by road.  For metros, light rail and high-speed trains  electrification has been established for many years as a way to ensure highest energy efficiency while  minimizing local emissions. With the ongoing electrification of railroads all over the world, rail traffic has become increasingly emission free. According to a recent study by the International Railway Union (UIC), rail is the most emissions-efficient major transport mode. Electric trains powered by renewable energy can offer practically carbon-free journeys and transport.

In cities, eBuses will play a role similar to the one I just described for the eHighway and hybrid-driven trucks. They offer the same advantages -energy efficiency, local zero emissions and, thanks to modern control systems, an improved travel experience for passengers. This is why they are in a good position to help satisfy the increasing demand for sustainable transport solutions in cities at a time when growing transport volumes and limited expansion possibilities for transport routes pose ever more serious problems.

What kind of innovations do engineers have in store to make electrified public transport a regular sight?

It is possible for instance to equip buses with a flexible Offboard High Power Charger, which adds considerable flexibility to eBus services. The buses need to stop at the charging station only for a few minutes. The system is ideal for high-frequency operations, since the charging infrastructure can be used by several buses per hour. It would even work if the vehicles were produced by different manufacturers. This is no scenario for the distant future; in fact the system’s practical feasibility in daily operation is already being demonstrated – for instance in Vienna, Gothenburg or Hamburg.

Offboard High Power charger
Offboard High Power Charger in Hamburg (Photo: Siemens)

Everyone is talking about self-driving vehicles. What is your take on autonomous driving?

The next step in the evolution of green, safe and efficient public transport on roads will be self-driving shuttle buses. At present there are several pilot projects under way, in areas such as university campuses and still operating with a driver as a back-up. Over the long run, electric-powered self-driving cars will be the new norm for individual and shared traffic in our cities. They are safe, emission-free and silent. But there is still a long way to go – infrastructures are not ready for that phase yet.


Cr2X screenshot

What needs to happen in terms of infrastructure?


Today, self-driving cars run well only under certain conditions,-  in a controlled environment and when the weather is right. The sensors fail when it rains or snows; and they also fail when the sun is too bright. And even though they already are quite powerful, sensors can’t see around the corner or through an object that is blocking the sensors sight. Today, the human driver serves as a “redundancy system” that makes up for these defects. But without someone at the wheel, the self-driving car would have only one option: to switch to safe mode in uncertain situations. This is not acceptable, because it means having to reduce speed radically or even stopping. Neither alternative is compatible with traffic regulations and the requirement not to hinder the flow of traffic. And, even worse, passengers wouldn’t accept driving in a slow and stuttering vehicle.

Overcoming these restrictions first of all needs a different perspective. We need to move from a car-centered approach to a systemic approach. There have to be sensors not only in the cars, but on the road as well to monitor and process what’s going on there – and communicate what they see to the cars. Similarly, cars need to communicate with one another and with the infrastructure around them. The combination of  complementary roadside sensor networks, a reliable real-time communication network such as 5G, and autonomous electric-powered cars will form a systemic transport net for future cities. But without the appropriate infrastructure, such a vision will remain  science fiction.

Jochen Eickholt leads the Mobility Division of global engineering giant Siemens AG. He studied electrical engineering at Aachen Technical University in Germany and Imperial College London, UK. He was appointed CEO of the Rail Automation Business Unit in 2009 and became CEO of the Mobility Division in 2012. On 31 May 2017 he will join ministers and other leaders for a discussion of  “The governance of transport in the digital economy” in the opening plenary of  ITF’s 2017 Summit on “Governance of Transport”


“We must reinvent mobility”

Michael_Cramer square CroppedMichael Cramer of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport talks about the imbalance between transport modes and the lessons from “Dieselgate”.

A lot of innovation is happening in transport right now – headlines about self-driving cars and electric vehicles abound. Are we finally on the path towards sustainable mobility?

Cramer: Billions are still invested in forms of mobility that ruin our climate. And it’s still all about cars. Without reinventing mobility we will not be able to stop climate change. A veteran German politician, former Munich mayor Hans-Jochen Vogel, said it well as early as 1972: “Cars are murdering our cities. Those who sow streets will harvest traffic”. Even if one day all cars will be electric, they will still be murdering our cities. When all cars are self-driving, they will still be murdering our cities. We must reduce emissions, sure. But it’s not only about energy efficiency, we must also reinvent mobility as a whole. 90% of car rides in German cities are shorter than 6 kilometers. These are ideal distances to go by tram, bus, bicycle or to walk. Electric cars are being subsidized with billions of Euros – indiscriminately, regardless of the real effect. By comparison, peanuts are given to support the use of electric bicycles or of cargo bikes, where they could have a real impact – cargo bikes could take over half of inner-city deliveries. Neither is there enough investment into the electrification of rail. The interests of car manufacturing are still dominating policy decisions.

But all car companies are busy rethinking their business models. Most are taking a broader view and branch out into areas like Mobility as a Service. Is your description not outdated?

The car industry must change much faster if it really wants to avoid the fate of the large energy utilities. Those ridiculed renewable energies for decades and now find themselves rather wrong-footed. Edzard Reuter, who was boss of Daimler-Benz from 1987 to 1995, warned thirty years ago that car manufacturers would only survive if by evolving into providers of mobility. In those days, Daimler-Benz not only built cars but

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“It’s still all about cars” (Photo: Oran Viriyincy)

also trucks, busses, trams, light rail trains, high-speed trains and even bicycles. His successor sold all those activities. Today, automotive companies are completely dependent on car sales, while they could have profited from the global boom in trams and light rail, for instance. I don’t see much innovation coming from big players who can hardly budge; it will be small and agile companies that plant the seeds of change.

What about the institutions that set the rules under which innovations either thrive or fail – do governments and regulatory agencies also need to become a little more agile?

Let me be a little cynical: No, they really don’t need additional agility. They need to discover what it means to be agile in the first place. One way of becoming more flexible, reactive and creative is to listen less to lobbyists. Take the “Dieselgate” scandal. We Green members of the European Parliament had to go to enormous lengths to get an inquiry going into the tempering with emissions tests. This inquiry has found EU member states and the European Commission guilty of negligence. The committee of inquiry proposed to set up an independent body with responsibility for controlling vehicle emissions. The Parliament’s transport committee, which I shared at the time, voted for this proposal as well. But it was  subsequently killed in the parliament by organised interests who lobbied deputies with the spectre of job losses in their region.


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Cycling freaks (Photo: ITF)

What is the lesson from that for you, as a policy maker?

It is hard to stomach that Diesel is still subsidised in many countries, despite being much more harmful in terms of NOx, NO2 and particular matter than standard petrol. Half a million people die as a result of particular matter, NOx and NO2 emissions every year in the European Union. Imagine our drinking water would be polluted like that – there would be immediate action. Not for the air we breathe. Europe’s political institutions – the Council, the Commission, and the European Parliament – must work harder. If after this criminal fraud we can’t abolish subsidies for Diesel, we shouldn’t even be using the word “sustainability”.

Ultimately, are you an optimist or a skeptic regarding the future of human mobility?

A bit of both. We have all the opportunities in the world. When I started out in politics, I was treated as a freak because I advocated cycling as a mode of transport. But it is now a reality. In Copenhagen more than 50% of all inhabitants cycle to work. In Berlin, the number of cyclists has doubled over the past ten years, and without major policy interventions. People will do what is right, and that is my hope.


Michael Cramer is Member of the European Parliament for the Green Party.  He chaired the Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism from 2014-17 and remains on the committee. Cramer also heads the parliamentary platform “Rail Forum Europe” and initiated the 10 000 km-long Iron Curtain Bicycle Trail from the Baltic to the Black Sea. On 2 June he will discuss new business models in transport and  the role for authorities with other experts at ITF’s 2017 Summit on “Governance of Transport”. Part of the Summit programme is a bicycle tour led by the mayor of Leipzig.


Why it pays for cities to fight road deaths – and how they can get better at it

By Alexandre Santacreu, International Transport Forum

Every minute of every day, someone loses their life in a traffic crash on a city street. With cities growing rapidly and urban motor traffic also increasing dramatically in many cities, the situation is likely to get worse, not better in years to come.

More and more city authorities are realising that dangerous traffic conditions on their streets have a toll that goes beyond the human tragedy and economic loss caused by road deaths and crash injuries. Dangerous traffic makes people feel unsafe, and people who feel unsafe will refrain from doing normal things – letting their children walk to school or cycling to work, for instance.

Four pedestrians waiiting to cross traffic
Waiting to cross traffic (Flickr/Serakatie)

Thus,  a high level of urban road safety is more and more seen as a critical component of a liveable city.  It improves citizens’ quality of life, it increases choices, it opens up opportunities. Ultimately, safer city streets are about enhanced personal freedom.

Safer streets equal more liveable cities

This was recognised in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2016. There, governments agreed (in goal number 11) to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” and as part of that committed to “improving road safety,… with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations”.

The link between the different objectives is easy to spot: improving road safety makes cities not only safer, but also more sustainable because it enables people to walk or cycle without having to fear for their lives. It also makes them more inclusive because those who cannot afford cars can be mobile without running lethal risks.

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But in practical terms, what can mayors and city authorities do to enhance traffic safety in their city? One obvious answer is: Do not reinvent the wheel – learn from what others are already doing. Many good practices for urban road safety exist around the world and only wait to be copied. A second, maybe less obvious answer is: Get your data in shape. Measure what is happening on your streets and how it changes, so you can base policy decisions on evidence, not assumptions.

When cities learn from each other

These two thoughts are the driving ideas behind Safer City Streets, the global traffic safety network for liveable cities. Little more than six months after its launch in October 2016, a total of 38 cities are working together in the Safer City Streets network, ranging  from Astana in Kazakhstan to Zürich in Switzerland and including global metropolises such as New York City, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, London,  Berlin, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Montreal and many others.

Safer City Streets brochure cover page w framThe Safer City Streets network, which holds its first meeting in Paris on 20 and 21 April (with more than 50 participants expected to attend),  provides the first global platform for cities and their road safety experts to exchange experiences and discuss ideas. At the heart of Safer City Streets activity will be efforts to improve the collection of data about urban road crashes to enable cities to compare themselves with others and base policy decisions on reliable evidence. A methodology for the database has already been developed and many of the cities have started feed it in their numbers.

The flying start has been helped by the fact that Safer City Streets itself is building on previous experience: It is modeled on the highly successful International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD), the International Transport Forum’s permanent working group on road safety, which brings together countries and national road safety stakeholders. Fittingly, the annual IRTAD meeting is held back-to-back with the inaugural meeting of Safer City Streets – which will also include a joint workshop with POLIS,  a network of European cities and regions, on how to bring cities from both networks together in order to find the best solutions for data collection.

Cities who are interested in finding out more about Safer City Streets are invited to contact the author. They should also know that membership of  Safer City Streets is currently free, thanks to a very generous grant from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

Alexandre Santacreu is a policy analyst for road safety at the International Transport Forum and the project manager of the Safer City Streets network. More information at This post also appears on OECD Insights.