Mobility happiness: The social side of mobility
Syra Vlaanderen & Rochelle Balmer
Marketing & Brand Manager
Read more by Syra Vlaanderen & Rochelle Balmer
At first, De Verkeersonderneming was mainly focused on battling congestion, but they now have added three more dimensions to the mix: the climate, public space, and inclusivity.
Stephanie Hughes is responsible for Architecture & Urban Planning with De Verkeersonderneming. Hans Stevens is a Program Manager. Hughes and Stevens are mainly concerned with the question: “How can mobility add to the quality of life?” They like to focus on the human side of mobility and call that mobility happiness.
This interview is part of a series of interviews with mobility experts in our latest report Vision on Mobility: En route to 2050
The voice of the traveler
Hughes and Stevens don’t have any remarks when it comes to our mobility network, but they do feel that discussions about mobility are very focused on the long term and infrastructure. They feel that the voice of the traveler is often missing in these discussions. Stevens: “We try to change that by putting the traveler at the top of our list.” Hughes adds: I feel that we shouldn’t just focus on adding the voice of the travelers to these discussions, but also the voice of the people that aren’t using public transportation at all right now, because the system doesn’t meet their wishes, needs or personal circumstances.”
Hughes and Stevens want – in contrast to most of their peers in mobility land – to focus on the now. Based on the four dimensions mentioned in the intro, they would like to start the mobility transition now with the help of pilots. Stevens: “We can do this by introducing new and innovative mobility concepts, but also, for example, through temporary new street layouts, so that people can get used to them first.” The responsibility for this mobility transition is in the hands of the government, according to Stevens, but only to start it up. According to him, the execution – possibly together with the government – should be in the hands of market parties, social organizations, employers, etc., and must be directed at “the greatest possible social diffusion, or, in other words, that as many people as possible (can) change their behavior”.
“Things have to change nów, we have to invest in healthy mobility nów.”
Thorn in the side
According to Stevens, De Verkeersonderneming has a dual role within the realm of mobility. On the one hand, he feels that De Verkeersonderneming is a representative of the government. That they should take the initiative in thinking about mobility by introducing several mobility projects and pilots, and work together with other parties and citizens to move them further along. On the other side, he views De Verkeersonderneming as a “thorn in the side” of the establishment. Stevens: “It’s our job to say that things have to change nów, that we have to invest in healthy mobility nów and that it’s maybe time to replace the same people that have been working on the same investment funds for the past 20 or 30 years with young people that have a fresh perspective.” That’s why the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management’s MaaS pilots don’t really sit well with him either. He feels that these pilots also emphasize the system’s perspective instead of the human aspect. Hughes feels that De Verkeersonderneming mostly plays the role of enabler and facilitator “in the sense that we identify problems, bring different parties together and take the lead [in starting up new mobility concepts],” she states.
The why behind technological developments
Hughes feels that it’s extremely important that in the next five years, we start focusing on further structuring technology and thinking about the why behind technological developments: “The developments should focus more on mobility happiness and how mobility can add to the quality of life and health of people. Mobility has a cultural, social, and economic dimension.” Stevens adds: “The biggest challenge of the next five years is to scale up projects, pilots and initiatives that are going well. We can’t do that by ourselves. We have to invest in healthy mobility together.”
The social side of mobility
When we ask them about their vision for mobility in 2050, Hughes expects (hopes) that we’ll have a complementary system in which happiness, health, and efficiency go hand in hand. Hughes: “To achieve that balance, we have to start focusing on the social side of mobility now. I think that that’s necessary too, especially when you look at the corona crisis because if we don’t know how to create healthy mobility, we soon won’t have any mobility.” Stevens doesn’t really know what to expect, but “maybe the focus will shift from more, more, more mobility to less, less, less physical mobility, leaving the digital highway the only mobility factor that matters.”
Investing in healthy mobility
Hughes and Stevens both agree that investing in healthy mobility is an important part of the impending mobility transition’s success. According to Stevens, this means that we, for example, should also invest in lines that are no longer profitable but do add to the quality of life by offering people an opportunity to participate in society.
Mobility starts at the kitchen table
They don’t foresee a real mobility problem in 2050 but do mention that, by that time, mobility will start at the kitchen table and only ends when you have reached your final destination. Last, but not least, they both feel that it’s paramount that people with vital jobs and that serve society should be fully unburdened when it comes to mobility; no costs, no waiting, access to parking, a seat on the bus/train/ metro, etc.. Then, mobility would be really healthy.
2020 The voice of the traveler is missing in the discussion about mobility
2025 We need to start thinking about the ‘why’ behind technological developments
2050 In healthy mobility, happiness, health and efficiency go hand in hand
Read the complete report
Mobility is a comprehensive subject that isn’t easy to oversee or to predict. To understand how mobility will develop towards 2050, we asked eleven experts from different levels of the industry to share their vision on mobility. You will see that there’s not just one answer to what mobility will look like in 2050. Participants to the report are KiM, ANWB, Hely, 9292, Ministerie van IenW, Parkbee, Gemeente Utrecht, De Verkeersonderneming, TU Delft, Lightyear en NS.
On June 25th 2020 we launched the report live with ANWB, Hely, NS and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water management You can watch the recording here:
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