The human as the future mobility solution: supporting instead of replacing

How can we provide people with physical mobility that matches their digital freedom of movement?

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  • Text: Florian Czak
    Co-Author: Franziska Warnke

    Concrete urban infrastructure slows down the transformation of physical mobility - but we could make it more flexible by reducing the habit of being carried around by heavy machinery. Making people themselves the center of the mobility turnaround could become a crucial starting point on the path to sustainable freedom of movement. Urban space satisfies immaterial needs: it provides a diverse cultural offering, diverse possibilities for consumption - but above all it creates a platform on which people can express themselves, including their personality, their wishes and their fears, while they largely determine their degree of anonymity themselves. The city thus represents an interface between physical and digital coexistence, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the resulting demands. The striving for maximum flexibility and individuality, which has been intensified by digitization, is countered by concrete infrastructures - a conflict arises between society in constant change and the city as a physically rigid system. So how can people be given physical mobility that equals their digital freedom of movement?

    With regard to the mobility turnaround, structure-oriented approaches are often chosen – for example when car drivers are to be convinced of alternative methods of transport using car bans and an adapted public transport system. Meanwhile, collective individualism fills the streets with vehicles that cause more problems than they solve.
    Mobility must be reduced to its essentials - to achieve this, it is elementary to consider people not only as users. Rather, with their own mobility they already represent a central component that needs to be supported instead of using a heavy vehicle that spends most of its energy on moving itself around. How a means of transport can optimally integrate and expand the human and his or her possibilities of movement, while itself being as materially reduced as possible, could be a central question for the mobility turnaround.

    We are almost entirely dependent on mobility in everyday life. Most of the distances travelled are only a few kilometers long - a logical approach would seem to be creating a permanent companion that provides mobile relief and, through its material reduction, represents as little strain as possible. It complements its user in his or her ability to move around individually and therefore makes him or her more flexible in the long term. This newly won mobile freedom consequently brings a new degree of independence. This means being able to choose the direct route instead of having to orientate oneself on networks and junctions - and no longer having to wait for a means of transport to get around. But it also implies not having to look for a parking space and not having to deal with the permanent maintenance of a complex machine. If then urban motion is perceived as an enrichment and thus the journey becomes the goal, then the challenge of mobility becomes a chance for a paradigm shift.

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    Franziska Warnke Communication Manager
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    M +49 173 7294632