Measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries

New paper: Willberg, E., Tenkanen, H., Miller, H.J., Pereira, R. H. M. and Toivonen, T. (2023) “Measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries,” Transport Reviews, DOI: 10.1080/01441647.2023.2240958.

Abstract. Our societies struggle to provide a good life for all without overconsuming environmental resources. Consequently, scholarly search for approaches to meet environmental and social goals of sustainability have become popular. In transport research, accessibility is a key tool to characterise linkages between people, transport, and land use. In the current paper, we propose a conceptual framework for measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries. We reviewed transport studies and discovered a substantial literature body on accessibility and social disadvantage, much vaster compared to the literature around environmental and ecological impacts of accessibility. We also show a gap in approaches that have integrated these two perspectives. Building on the review, we suggest a conceptual framework for incorporating environmental and social sustainability goals in accessibility research. We conclude the paper by pointing to key challenges and research avenues related to the framework, including (i) dealing with uncertainty and complexity in socio-ecological thresholds, (ii) integrating environmental limits into the conceptualisations of transport equity, (iii) measuring accessibility through other costs than travel time, and (iv) integrating both quantitative and qualitative data.

Why is sustainable mobility so hard? Some observations on the paths forward

On April 14, I had the opportunity to give a lecture in the Mobility and Planning for Human-scale Cities lecture series organized by the Mobility Lab at the University of Tartu in Estonia, sponsored by the US Speaker Program of the US Department of State.

Mobility is central to urbanity, and urbanity is central to our common future as the world’s population crowds into urban areas. This is creating a global mobility crisis due to the unsustainability of our 20th century transportation systems for a crowded and connected 21st century world. We need to move beyond inflexible, unsustainable and brittle car-dominated mobility monocultures to flexible, sustainable and resilient mobility polycultures with a wide spectrum of integrated mobility options. This transition is hard because mobility is complex, a wicked problem and a fundamental social dilemma.

In this lecture, I address the transition towards sustainable mobility. I discuss how we can leverage the urban data revolution to resolve these challenges. In particular, I focus on the role of next generation urban observatory science that respects complexity, embraces uncertainty and conflicting values, facilitates urban experimentation and creates environments for collaboration and knowledge co-production. I identified the major scientific challenges, merits and broader impacts of the observatory approach to transportation and urban science.

A recording of the lecture is available via the link below:

Why is sustainable mobility so hard? Some observations on the paths forward – 14 April 2023