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