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What determines how cities move on? The ever-increasing challenges to urban mobility come in many forms, and approaches to address them range from the technically ingenious to attempts to change travel behaviour. Key amongst factors essential to the success of any such approach is whether the urban environment proves to be fertile ground for the desired progress. Another vital determinant of success is how well individual measures to engineer the transport system interact with other developments. This leads to the principal subject of Megacity Mobility Culture: the basic principles that determine the paths along which cities move. This book demonstrates that the concept of ‘mobility culture’ provides a framework for understanding the development of urban transport which transcends the boundaries between academic disciplines. Based on a discussion of the diversity of megacities worldwide, it provides help in navigating the complexity of megacity mobility culture. Experts from megacities around the world each take the reader on a journey to their own city and its mobility culture, giving a deeper insight into the unique evolutionary paths of mobility that these places have taken, and what lies before them. Whilst acknowledging the overwhelming diversity of cities worldwide, the authors also identify common denominators behind the evolution of urban transport systems – seven temperaments which are found in a unique mix in any given city, defining the character of its mobility culture.

The Institute for Mobility Research is a research facility of the BMW Group. It deals with future developments and challenges relating to mobility across all modes of transport, with automobility being only one aspect among many. Taking on an international perspective, ifmo’s activities focus on social science and sociopolitical, economic and ecological issues, but also extend to cultural questions related to the key challenges facing the future of mobility. The work of the Institute is supported by an interdisciplinary board of renowned scientists and scholars, and by representatives of BMW, Deutsche Bahn, Lufthansa, MAN, Siemens and The World Bank.



Setting the Context


Chapter 1. Trends and Challenges: Global Urbanisation and Urban Mobility

Throughout the world, urban policymakers continue to struggle balancing the ever-increasing levels of activity in cities against the need for more-sustainable forms of urban development. City-making challenges are exacerbated by the global environmental crisis and concerns about climate change, resource depletion, increased levels of pollution, and the loss of biodiversity. These concerns are directly related to current unsustainable patterns of urbanisation. This chapter first focuses on the overall context of global urbanisation and its connections to the challenge of urban transport. With reference to the current growth of cities and the ongoing urbanisation evident in many parts of the world, it details three main components of this growth: people, urban land, and transport. The chapter moves on to highlight the problems, challenges and risks that cities are facing today by looking at the central environmental, economic and social concerns that have emerged in relation to the systemic, spatial component of cities and its linkages to urban transport and access to the city. The chapter concludes by highlighting the importance of working productively with the interrelatedness of urban systems, particularly with regard to land use and urban transport.
Philipp Rode

Chapter 2. The Diversity of Megacities Worldwide: Challenges for the Future of Mobility

Megacities around the globe present bewildering combinations of transport patterns, transport infrastructure and other factors related to personal mobility. From the sprawling auto-dependent regions such as Los Angeles and Houston through the rail-based transit giants of Tokyo and Osaka, the informal-based public transport systems of Manila and Johannesburg, to the strong non-motorised sectors of Mumbai and the legendary traffic congestion of Bangkok, megacities are as diverse as they are many. But through this complexity and diversity, is it possible to find defining patterns? Can we simplify this perplexing picture? And through this process, is it possible to better understand and distinguish the array of mobility challenges that face such large cities? This chapter explores these questions through a cluster analysis of some 41 megacities across the globe, representing a vast range in wealth and other features. Exploiting The Millennium Cities Database for Sustainable Transport, which presents a very large, consistent and reliable set of transport and land use indicators for 100 cities worldwide, the study examines some 59 representative indicators covering land use and wealth characteristics, private, public and non-motorised mode mobility patterns, private and public transport infrastructure, transport investment patterns, transport energy use, transport externalities and other variables. The results suggest that megacities can be classified into six distinct types, which we have called Hybrid Cities, Transit Cities, Auto Cities, Non-Motorised Cities, Traffic-Saturated Cities and Paratransit Cities. The chapter provides a global mapping and description of these city-types, gives an overview on the variables used and the methodology for the cluster analysis and highlights the diversity of mobility patterns across these clusters by selected key variables. It explains how this advances our understanding of mobility in such cities. Finally, it presents the key mobility challenges that characterise each set of cities. The cluster results provided a framework for the selection of cities explored by scholars in the city mobility stories that form the major part of this book.
Roland Priester, Jeffrey Kenworthy, Gebhard Wulfhorst

Chapter 3. The Reader’s Guide to Mobility Culture

Without Abstract
Tobias Kuhnimhof, Gebhard Wulfhorst

Stories from the Megacity


Chapter 4. Ahmedabad: Leapfrogging from Medieval to Modern Mobility

Ahmedabad, being a compact city with high density and good mix of land use, is characterised by shorter trip lengths, lower fatality rates and less congestion than is found in many other Indian cities. The region of Greater Ahmedabad has potential for development, and is at present in a phase of growth and expansion. Managing this growth in such a way as to retain its compact nature and at the same time improve its public transport system are the main objectives of the city’s various transport and urban development plans. Technologically advanced mass transit modes, such as metro and Bus Rapid Transit, are being designed to improve mobility within the Greater Ahmedabad region. As the city aspires to shift towards modernised modes of public transport, the age-old mobility culture that has evolved from its people’s customs and lifestyle cannot be disregarded. Tractors, shared autorickshaws, animal-driven carts and the like cater to the mobility needs of the citizens even today, alongside the newly introduced BRT system. The introduction of modern transport systems and technology in Ahmedabad has to be considered against a backdrop of existing modes and systems that date back centuries, and with which the people have long been acquainted; this local context makes transport reforms more complex to achieve in this city.
Swapna Ann Wilson

Chapter 5. Beijing: Transition to a Transit City

Over the past three decades, Beijing has experienced profound changes in mobility culture. The city has changed from being a Non-Motorised City to a nearly Traffic-Saturated City in less than 30 years. Private cars have become the leading power in the motorisation process, and bicycles no longer dominate streets in Beijing. The city has accomplished the building of a surface and underground transport infrastructure system of reasonable quality. In addition, the government transport policy has been modified from encouraging private car purchasing to restricting vehicle ownership and use. No other megacity has ever experienced such rapid and pervasive changes in its transport system within such a relatively short period of time. The encouraging sign is that the city has developed a clear vision for becoming a Transit City, and has been working on promoting public transport for the last couple of years. This chapter investigates the dynamic aspects of the city’s mobility culture and describes its evolution path towards a more sustainable future. More specifically, three aspects of the evolving mobility culture are focused, namely travel demand, mobility patterns and transport policy. This chapter concludes with discussions on the strengths of Beijing which will assist it in achieving its long-term vision, and the obstacles to that aim which the city also presents.
Ziqi Song

Chapter 6. Gauteng: Paratransit—Perpetual Pain or Potent Potential?

South Africa is nearly 20 years into its democracy, yet the legacy of apartheid remains evident and the level of inequality steadily rising. Gauteng province, the economic heart of the country that includes Johannesburg and Tshwane, the capital, carries the burden of many of its formerly relocated citizens still living in poverty on the periphery of the large metropolitan areas. Whereas sprawl is commonly associated with low-density, more affluent development on the periphery, Gauteng finds itself with having to provide basic services and mobility to high density, low-income people on its outskirts. The mobility culture in Gauteng is heavily influenced by the socioeconomic disparity. In this chapter we revisit the legislative context that gave rise to racial segregation, and concern ourselves with the impact it had in the evolution of the now-dominant paratransit mode that accounts for more than two thirds of all commuter trips in Gauteng. Although often cited in literature and the media for its violent sectarian conflicts, the minibus taxis, as it is commonly referred to, is much more than a mere mode of transport. Outsiders often perceive the taxi industry to be a chaotic system, but it has evolved into a powerful economic industry with a unique mobility culture, most notably the hand signals—a silent gestural semiotic language in its own right—used by commuters to communicate their desired destinations to passing taxis. Aware of the rising inequality, and not fully understanding or appreciating the exibility it provides, government often perceives paratransit as a necessary nuisance that should be formalised. Improving mobility and accessibility, however, requires both settlement location and transport to be revisited. As such, paratransit may prove to a valuable solution, and not the mere nuisance it is often made out to be.
Johan W. Joubert

Chapter 7. São Paulo: Distinct Worlds Within a Single Metropolis

This chapter discusses how social inequality has framed São Paulo’s mobility culture and has led to a stressed mobility system. To demonstrate this, figures of inequality as it relates to mobility are given, as well as indicators that illustrate the principal mobility problems. Social, economical, cultural and political issues that lie behind the current situation are also discussed, and stories from typical São Paulo citizens are presented in order to reveal more clearly the impact of inequality and transport policies on daily life. In conclusion, this chapter presents the measures currently being taken in São Paulo in order to address the most visible mobility problems. Moreover, it calls for further action to promote policy that is more balanced, so as to reduce the gap between the wealthy and the poor, and pave the way to a more sustainable city.
Marcela da Silva Costa

Chapter 8. Atlanta: Scarcity and Abundance

The Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan region exists solely as the result of the intersection of transport infrastructure—railways, interstate freeways, and the world’s busiest airport. However, neither vehicle drivers nor public transport passengers are happy with the state of their mobility. Racism, poor planning, and rapid economic growth have worked together to create a low-density urban fabric and a transport network that limits accessibility. Atlanta’s development cannot be separated from its history of racial and class segregation. Mobility in Atlanta suffers from an abundance of vehicles on the roads and a scarcity of public transport services. Atlanta built roads to serve its low-density suburbs, and refused to invest in public transport. Drivers are inconvenienced, but the public transport passengers, mostly poor and Black, have limited access to the majority of the region.
Laurel Paget-Seekins

Chapter 9. Los Angeles: A Transit Metropolis in the Making?

The Los Angeles region epitomises polycentric urban form with highly fragmented and devolved governance. For a long time, the region has been cited as an example of urban sprawl. However, its pattern of employment is not really dispersed—as expected in sprawl—but, rather, organised in many decentralised ‘employment centres’. These centres have grown and evolved over a long period. In the emerging urban form, the density gradient has multiple local maxima coincident with the employment centres. The multimodal population density function and the underlying travel demand have gradually changed the way in which people travel, and how we make transportation plans so as to accommodate such traffic demand. We are witnessing a comeback in mass transit, both in initiatives and investment. Movement of people in this car-centric region, although still heavily reliant on its extensive highway network, may well be increasingly undertaken by public transport in the near future. Is the traditional notion that Los Angeles is a low-density, car-orientated city being challenged? A history review, a contemporary analysis, and an examination of the outlook for the future might lead us to an answer.
Sylvia Y. He

Chapter 10. Berlin: After the Growth: Planning Mobility Culture in an Environment of Dynamic Stagnation

After more than twenty years since the fall of the wall and the unification of Germany Berlin is still searching for its proper role and functions in Germany and Europe. For this, Berlin has not only to redefine and plan anew its traffic infrastructure in relation to long-distance links within Germany and into the European sphere, but this redefinition translates also in a complete overhaul of its inner-city transport networks and spatial relations in accordance with the general city development. Basically, this revision of the urban form can be interpreted as the quest for a new centrality for a city with a strong polycentric legacy. Yet, this reinvention and reorganisation of the city between the poles of polycentric and centralising forces reflects a repeated historical experience for Berlin. It is the aim of this chapter to show how in line with its own history, Berlin attempts to venture this reorganisation basically by a top-down approach, with the assistance of a number of master plans and regulatory devices, while at the same time rather unregulated processes from “below” redefine many of the contested and iconic inner city areas, which are at the focus of this city transformation. The consequential encounter of these top-down and bottom-up developments reveals new conflicts about deviant notions of urban life.
Gunter Heinickel

Chapter 11. London: Culture, Fashion, and the Electric Vehicle

In this chapter, I outline the mobility culture of London through the example of the G-Wiz EV. London, as a global megacity, has a mobility culture that must function under a wide range of transport, environmental, political, economic, land use and architectural constraints. In short, a modern global city squeezed into a historical shell, with a mobility culture marked by little negotiation room for large scale shifts through built environment alterations or behavioural change. This “make do and mend” mobility culture limits the conceptualisation of the issue of mobility in London. This chapter considers the G-Wiz, a small EV which experienced a remarkable and seemingly sudden increase in sales. Through a confluence of social, economic and technical conditions, EV sales increased sharply, following running cost incentives (significantly the Congestion Charge) and the fashion of green conspicuous consumption dominant in UK public discourse at the time. This chapter argues that the G-Wiz was used as a mobility tool to adapt superficially to mobility constraints without a change to either the ways of moving in the city or the ways of understanding those movements. Thus, the G-Wiz serves as a useful example of London’s mobility culture at work.
Ivo Wengraf

Perspectives for Megacities on the Move


Chapter 12. Singapore’s Mobility Model: Time for an Update?

Singapore’s urban transport system is well known as a policy success story, and its key elements have been widely recounted. However, while acknowledging the strengths of the Singapore approach, this chapter discusses some of its shortcomings. It reviews the key elements of Singapore’s approach to its urban transport challenges, starting in the early 1970s. This approach established a prominent role for public transport and avoided the locking in of significant automobile dependence. However, a source of new tensions is an overemphasis on high traffic speeds in too many contexts. This emphasis is increasingly in danger of undermining other key elements of Singapore’s approach to transport issues, such as the requirement for space efficiency and the need to raise the status of alternatives to the car. Finally, the chapter points towards possible adjustments to Singapore’s model that might allow it to overcome its dilemmas.
Paul A. Barter

Chapter 13. Perspectives on Mobility Cultures in Megacities

Megacities are facing multiple challenges in urban mobility, linked to energy scarcity and climate change, unprecedented urbanisation and suburbanisation, as well as local issues of social and spatial inequalities, traffic impacts on health, severe congestion, conflicts over urban space and complex regional governance tasks. This chapter explores how megacities can address these issues to create well-functioning mobility systems, while simultaneously enhancing their liveability, economic performance and sustainability. Every city is unique and complex, so there is no one simple solution. It is argued here, however, that the mobility culture concept helps us to navigate a path through this complexity and find suitable mobility solutions in each city. Some key outcomes of the mobility culture research and workshop exchanges are discussed in terms of local policies for challenges, urban structure and transport supply, the critical value of urban space, travel demand management and creative processes in urban mobility development. Appropriate local strategies have to be developed by communities in a bottom-up and top-down approach.
Gebhard Wulfhorst, Jeff Kenworthy, Sven Kesselring, Martin Lanzendorf


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