Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017

Nigel, our e-correspondent from New Zealand, shares with us a report, Chasing Urban Mobility: Moving towards a connected sustainable future | Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017.

This ranking of sustainable mobility is of cities specifically, not metropolitan areas, and lists the top 100 cities world-wide in.  The organization is Australia-based and the report includes a section on what Australian cities can learn and how to do better.

The index is produced using data organized in three different categories:
  • People: Measures social and human implications of mobility systems including quality of life
  • Planet: Captures environmental impacts; “green” factors like energy, pollution and emissions
  • Profit: Assesses the effi ciency and reliability of a mobility system to facilitate economic growth
I think the report is interesting, but it does demonstrate one of the problems with creating such indexes has to do with what you measure and whether or not the measurements you've chosen are the right ones.  For example, "upkeep of the system" is measured by additions to the system's track mileage and array of stations, not measures of track or train failures, etc.

For example, DC (#42) rates more highly than Melbourne (#55), yet Victoria State invented "transportation demand management" and the Melbourne transit system is rich and deep, with a number of world leading practices in pricing mechanisms to promote use of transit, such as riding trains free for trips that end before 7:15 am, as a way to manage transportation capacity more than as a revenue generator, plus it has the Parkiteer bicycle parking network, which operates at the metropolitan scale, providing free, protected bicycle parking at transit stations and major destinations, as well as an organized overnight transit network operating at the metropolitan scale, whereas DC proper has a default overnight transit network because a number of trunkline bus services run almost 24 hours, but this doesn't extend to the suburbs.

Plus, cities with practically no real transit systems at all other than lightly used bus systems, like Detroit, Tampa, and Indianapolis, are ranked in the 80s, which makes little sense.  But this is likely a "fault" of the cities selected for study.  The US is overrepresented with 19 cities listed, while countries like Germany (3 cities) and France (2 cities) are underrepresented.

Still, if you measure "sustainable mobility" on the basis of "in the center city, you can get around and make most of your trips without having to own a car" probably the top 55 cities fit the bill.  Certainly on the basis of experience in places like Hamburg (#20), New York City (#23), San Francisco (#26), and Montreal (#36) I can say that's true, although taxis and car share vehicles can help to make it even easier.

And the measurements are a good start, even if the data sources may need changing.

Indicators for measuring sustainable mobility, Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017 (page 19)
Criteria for determining sustainable mobility ranking for cities, Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017
Top 100 cities, Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017 (page 9)
Top 100 cities, Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index

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