We’re celebrating International Women’s Day by speaking to trailblazing professionals across the mobility space. This year’s theme, ‘choose to challenge’ is fitting for an industry driving innovation though technology, infrastructure design and positive behaviour change.
When it comes to the environment, challenging the status quo has never been more important. Sustainable travel options need to be viable for the many rather than the few. These women, leaders in their fields, share their insights about the future of mobility and why it’s important to them.
Krysia Kristina Solheim is the Managing Director at Nextbike UK, a global bike share system helping to shape the future for a more sustainable way to travel. Founded in Germany in 2010, the company has grown rapidly from a small hire scheme with 20 bikes to a truly global operation with schemes in over 155 cities across 25 countries worldwide.
“The potential the micro mobility sector is what excites me most. Bike share is an affordable measure with a relatively short lead time in comparison to other infrastructure solutions. It is not a panacea and it will never serve all mobility needs on its own, but it enables the masses to access bicycles and it normalises cycling. We help create communities where people don’t have to actively choose (and work so hard) to be people who cycle, they just de facto are. And that transforms the places we live in.
Technology itself does not shape positive or negative behaviour change, but it’s implementation and the context in which it is implemented does. You could build the most advanced, autonomous, zero emissions car possible, but if that’s not paired with reallocating space to active, shared and mass modes of transport and making it less convenient to drive, then you won’t see positive modal shift and could in fact see increased car usage. That’s why it’s so important that we look at transportation holistically instead of by mode.
People are not one dimensional. They cycle and walk and roll and tube and bus and drive as well. We need to create cities and transportation systems that make it easy to be multimodal and prioritise active transport. And that’s where technology can help – it’s a tool to reduce the friction around choosing sustainable modes of transport.”
Grace Packard is the Principal Consultant for Momentum Transport Consultancy, a progressive, people-first transport consultancy providing transport planning, analytics and engineering solutions in complex urban environments.
‘If we’ve learnt anything from the last year, it’s that the unexpected can happen and disrupt industry trends. We can’t predict the next 10 years, but we can certainly envisage our favoured future and work to understand the steps needed to get there.
I’m expecting the next 10 years to be a growing stage for active mobility and similar complementary modes – e-bikes, e-scooters etc. The pandemic has opened our eyes to their benefits, not only sustainability but also their convenience and impact on accessibility. This is not to say that public transport will no longer be needed, in fact it is possible that through the use of these active and semi-active modes, public transport will become more important as we move from private car use to multi-mode journeys.
In the long-term, positive behaviour change begins in the very early stages of education. The children of today will be the shapers of the future, but for the short-term, behaviour change can be accelerated through thoughtful urban planning. The space and infrastructure to complement sustainable mobility can and should be delivered quickly, following appropriate consultation with all stakeholders. We must explore solutions that allow areas to thrive without jeopardising integral operations.’
Katherine Agong is a Transport Planner and Transportation Engineering researcher at the University of the West Indies. She has over 18 years’ experience working on bespoke traffic and transportation projects all over the world.
“To me the future of transport looks like a mix of the very old ways of travelling mixed with the new, all linked by Intelligent Transport Systems and the Internet of Things.
Many transport systems around the world will include more active travel (the old) and the use of autonomous shared cars (the new). Car ownership will be minimal yet accessibility and mobility will be higher. This vision cannot be achieved without technology especially the internet and mobile devices. It’s going to help people make the best choice of modes of travel totally catered to their lifestyle whilst minimising the impact on the environment.”
Emily Cherry is the Executive Director of the Bikeability Trust, the national charity for the government’s cycle education programme based on the National Standard for Cycle Training. The Trust exists to strengthen Bikeability, promote its benefits and maximise its impact.
‘Leading the Bikeability Trust’s mission to educate about the benefits of cycling is an inspiration. We’ve already trained 3.5million children with life skills confidence to cycle, and our vision is to reach 5 million more by 2025. We believe firmly in helping a whole generation through Bikeability training to take that first step to choose active travel as their future. We want to embed a love and joy of cycling and mobility in a generation that are already increasingly more concerned about climate change and the impact they can make for their future. As we emerge from the pandemic, forms of micro mobility will be ever more important to promote health, wellbeing and economic recovery.’
Sarah Roberts is the Head of Product for the Liftshare Group and recently launched the Mobilityways platform. Mobilityways is a tool to help organisations survey their teams, collect mobility insights and promote and incentivise behaviour change to work towards Zero Carbon Commuting.
From the way we commute to building new developments, jobs and business in the sustainable sector are on the up. Decarbonising the commute is fast becoming a widely accepted target among governments, it’s an exciting time to consider the possibilities of how the demands of sustainability may pave the way for technology.
Liftshare has worked with hundreds of business, organisations and local authorities over the past 20 years, and we’ve seen their frustration in having to manage several contracts with different providers to send a commute survey, scope the potential of the sustainability commute landscape and create behaviour change initiatives like successful Liftsharing schemes. The pressure and motivation of having a zero carbon commuting workforce has allowed us to bring our knowledge, existing services and new technology together.
Mobilityways gives you unparalleled insight into commuting behaviours, identifies sustainable travel alternatives for individuals and measures the effectiveness of your initiatives, allowing you to track your progress towards a zero carbon commute through one supplier, rather than multiple consultants.
Without technology we can’t benchmark what our carbon emissions picture is right now, and we can’t track how we’re improving whilst rolling out behaviour change initiatives; cycling schemes, Liftshare Communities, discounts to electric buses etc. So to that end, technology plays a huge part in helping businesses, organisations and local authorities in decarbonising their commute.
There is so much potential to change the world we’re living in. Attitudes to sustainable travel are just one part of the fight to combat the climate emergency, but as Pre-Covid statistics tell us is that 5% of all emissions in the UK came from commuting (18 million tonnes of CO2!), trying to change the mobility sector into being more sustainable is a great place to start.
90% of us travel alone to work, 40% of us could cycle, 10million of us could share a lift. The vast majority of us hate commuting. The opportunity to improve all of it is there! There are some amazing technologies out there that can help us all as individuals commute better, and help organisations make change on a wider scale.
Olga Anapryenka is a Senior Consultant on New Mobility at Steer, a global consultancy working across cities, infrastructure & transport. She manages projects on new and innovative technologies, such as intelligent infrastructure, shared mobility, Mobility as a Service, Mobility Hubs and smart ticketing. Olga is also the Co-Founder of Women in Mobility London Hub which aims to increase the visibility of women in mobility and has over 1,600 members, represented in 10 hubs across 4.
What excites me most about the mobility sector? The ability to impact and improve people’s lives. Innovation applied to the mobility sector can influence our travel choices, bring operational efficiencies, and provide alternative greener modes leading to reduced congestion, improved air quality and a healthier population.
Public private partnerships are key to boosting the adoption of greener transport: collaboration and engagement is always better than a siloed approach. For example, the growing adoption of electric vehicles presents various opportunities and, at the same time, imposes certain challenges, which can be resolved faster with public and private sectors working together. Public private partnerships should be encouraged by local authorities and new opportunities can be unlocked through organising events such as Mobility Forums, where stakeholders can exchange ideas and network.
Happy International Women’s Day and huge thank you to all our contributors. If their words have got you thinking and you want to #ChooseToChallenge your organisation’s commuting emissions you need to understand the scope of the problem before you can tackle it. Calculate your ACEL (Average Commuter Emissions Level) Score – it’s free, easy and is the first step on your journey to Zero Carbon Commuting.
Author Basil Choudhry
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