A vision – and challenging targets

14th July 20200 comments

Lockdown has shown that life can still continue for most people with vastly lower transport demand – and many benefits to the quality of our lives, even if we lack some normally important services. It’s a (sort-of) ‘win-win’: our lives are better due to lower transport impacts, and we get lower carbon emissions.

Yet that’s well short of what’s needed from our transport system, which might be defined in six outcomes as comprising:

  1. Personal and freight mobility as needed;
  2. A quality of life, healthiness and personal safety that are each demonstrably enhanced, not adversely impacted by transport;
  3. Having those opportunities (both mobility – and freedom from adverse impacts) similarly available to everyone, regardless of accessibility, culture or affordability;
  4. Near zero carbon emissions and resource use, properly calculated (see previous blog);
  5. The transport system enhances the economy and our roles within that, and;
  6. The whole transport system is financially sustainable in the long-term.

This vision is what we should strive for – and design for. Currently, we only (mostly) meet the first and fifth of these outcomes.

What forthcoming blogs will describe is the approach we have developed to mobility (and there may well be others that are similarly effective) that could plausibly get us close to this nirvana.

Some (provisional) numeric target outcomes for the transport system, as a whole at global level, could be:

These numbers might, at first glance, seem more than far-fetched. Yet we think both the outcomes and timescales are not just achievable, but are essential to meet the demands of the climate crisis. To succeed in meeting them, what’s mainly needed is a radical shift in mindsets, and not just about travel.

For some elements we will put forward involve challenges to the current paradigm of how society is structured and to our value systems, being quite different to the outputs and (apparent) delivery mechanisms anticipated by the UK’s “build, build, build” escape from Covid-19 recession. Yet much of the approach we propose requires “building” – just in a different way.

Like many recent technology-driven shifts in our lives, some of the approaches to be described in this blog have not previously been feasible, awaiting the technological capability of recent decades. Yet other aspects, by refocusing on, and strengthening the capabilities of communities, just regain what has historically been the norm, but were lost with the hyper-mobility of recent decades.

A vision backed by detailed target outputs will be given in the next blog; following ones will set the context for our thinking, then more fully describe and justify individual components of the overall approach.

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