Sustainable urban mobility: what it is, importance and main solutions

Read this text and understand what sustainable urban mobility is, its solutions, importance, challenges and much more!

Sustainable urban mobility is a positive challenge for cities, especially those with a greater concentration of people and, consequently, greater circulation on the streets. This is a concept to be pursued, as it brings many benefits, both individual and collective.

Continue reading this text to understand what sustainable urban mobility is, its solutions, importance, challenges and much more!

What is sustainable urban mobility?

Before exploring the concept of sustainable urban mobility, it is necessary to understand what it means urban mobility in itself. This term refers to the movement of people in cities, a basic activity for exercising citizenship.

In this sense, any urban itinerary between two points or more will require some movement, be it on foot, by bus, by car, by bicycle, in a wheelchair...

Therefore, sustainable urban mobility prioritizes means of transport that reduce impacts on the environment, such as the high production of air pollutants. And that they are also economically viable for people, regardless of their social condition.

In this way, the planet is preserved while making geographic spaces more accessible for everyone.

Sustainable urban mobility emerges as an alternative to traditional transport – one that prioritizes private vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles.

Think about it: how many times have you seen a five-seater car with just one passenger? What impacts can this bring, both collectively and individually?

Therefore, sustainable urban mobility is based on three pillars: encouraging public transport, discouraging the use of cars and encouraging non-motorized transport – and walking itself is here in this last group! Next, we talk a little more about other examples of sustainable mobility.

Principles of sustainable urban mobility

For sustainable urban mobility to work, it must follow some basic principles, which must be followed by politicians and society as a whole.

Check out some of the main points for the concept to work:

  1. Plan urban development in conjunction with mobility;
  2. Focus on how people will move, not the vehicles;
  3. Encourage society to be part of this development;
  4. Access for the entire population;
  5. Connection between means of transport.

What are the solutions for sustainable urban mobility?

Sustainable urban mobility already has several solutions that have been revealed over the years. Some of them, such as electric bicycles, are growing in Brazil.

In this sense, it is clear that the logistics of cities with technological innovation are one of the keys to taking care of the environment. And, in addition to taking care of the planet, people can lead less stressful and more economical lives. Just advantages, right?

Below you can check some of the main solutions for investing in sustainable urban mobility:

  • Public transport: bus, VLT (Light Rail Vehicle), train, subway
  • Non-motorized transport: skateboard, bicycle, shared bike, roller, public elevators, hiking, wheelchair, scooter
  • Modal integration, which is when different means of transport are connected, such as subway and bus, for example, or a cycle path with VLT
  • Structural changes in cities: cycle paths, moving walkways and public elevators, cable cars, sidewalks friendly to wheelchair users and blind people, noise pollution control for blind people, restrictions on access to public roads

How important is sustainable urban mobility?

Has it ever happened that you have to leave very early for an appointment because if you left a little later you would hit rush hour and then get stuck in traffic? Or, did you prefer to spend more money on private transport because the bus lines to your destination are not efficient?

Yes, the importance of sustainable urban mobility is reflected in the solution of these and other problems. The fact is that, as the years progressed, cities became full of motorized vehicles. This generated a series of problems: the main one is chaotic traffic, of course, but there are many others:

  • High consumption of: energy, natural resources, public space
  • Negative impacts: more pollution, more health problems and accidents, greater loss of productivity at work and studies, more traffic jams

The intention of sustainable urban mobility is to offer more economical, less stressful and less polluting routes for the planet. With it, the carbon footprint of people, contributing to better air for everyone. Furthermore, public space is no longer just a passageway but also becomes a positive space for coexistence with others.

There is no denying it: sustainable urban mobility is the path for cities of the future – like Paris, which will invest 250 million in the construction of cycle paths and parking lots for bikes. Therefore, carrying out profound structural and cultural changes will be the way to guarantee a higher quality of life for citizens and protection of the environment.

What are the challenges of sustainable urban mobility?

Sustainable urban mobility contributes to solving several problems in today's cities, especially in large urban centers. One of the most visible is congestion: after all, there are more and more people needing to get around, and quickly.

And so many people moving around in motorized vehicles also increases the emission of pollutants, which affects air quality and, consequently, human health.

People who live in peripheral neighborhoods feel the effects of the lack of investment in sustainable urban mobility even more. According to research Inequality Map 2020, only 18% of São Paulo's population lives within a radius of up to 1km from high-capacity public transport stations.

Remember that, in most cases, these people need to take two or more modes of transport to complete their trips, which affects time, health and their wallets. Without forgetting that such vehicles are often overcrowded, even with requests for social distancing to prevent Covid-19.

You might be asking yourself: “well, why not invest in sustainable urban mobility all at once?” Well, there are some obstacles on this path:

  • Infrastructure changes: Sustainable cities call for profound changes in urban planning, such as building cycle paths, accessible sidewalks and investing in more modes of transport, such as subways and VLT.
  • Political thought: For such changes to advance, governments must also be aware of their importance and then make the necessary investments.
  • Bureaucracy: New projects also require enactments of laws, tenders and so on. In other words, legal issues that can slow down the change process.
  • Cultural vision: Even with all the benefits of sustainable urban mobility, there are people who oppose measures such as the creation of cycle paths and the creation of exclusive bus lanes.

Challenges of sustainable urban mobility in Brazil

As we showed above, sustainable urban mobility faces challenges of the most varied types. However, in Brazil, some of these obstacles become more latent. Therefore, it is urgent for the authorities to look at these issues – after all, solving them is synonymous with a calmer and more ecological urban life for everyone.

Check it out below:

  • Poor sidewalks: They make it difficult for blind people and wheelchair users to move around, cause accidents and also discourage the simple act of walking around the city. Quality sidewalks, in addition to being a right for pedestrians, can also encourage exercise such as walking
  • Difficulty accessing public transport: sometimes crowded buses, sometimes destinations impossible to reach by public transport. Furthermore, there is also a frequent lack of security at bus stations, trains and so on. Investing in this aspect means ensuring more savings for people and less pollutants in the air
  • Little cycling network: Depending on where you live in the city, cycle paths can be quite far away – meaning it's difficult to choose to use a bicycle as a means of transport. Thus, the increase in cycle paths and also shared bicycles can help reduce traffic in cities

Sustainable urban mobility: what to expect from new trends?

We are increasingly seeing the creation of smart cities: that is, those that use technology and communication to propose innovative solutions for urban ecosystems. Thus, at the same time as economic growth, there is an improvement in people's quality of life. Cool huh?

And such smart cities are partners in the creation and investment of new trends in sustainable urban mobility. We bring you some examples:

  • Shared transportation: scooters, bicycles, scooters, electric cars… it is increasingly common to see cities with these mobility options. They avoid the generation of pollutants – in addition to being a more economical way of getting around
  • Real-time public transport information sharing: With GPS installed in public vehicles, you can access applications that inform you about your location
  • Electric cars: with battery operation, such as iFood electric motorcycle, do not generate pollutants
  • Drones: super technological solution that can help people transport much faster and without generating pollution

Read too: The sky is the limit: drones complement our deliveries

Sustainable urban mobility projects

Keeping an eye on the urgency of encouraging sustainable urban mobility, iFood launched some projects with the aim of assisting in this collective struggle.

One of them is the iFood Pedal, the first service in the world to offer bicycle rental exclusively for delivery people. In one year of operation, the project had 13 thousand registered couriers and one million orders delivered using e-bikes and shared conventional bikes. This prevented the emission of 271 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere!

To find out more about the initiative, just click here: iFood Pedal: a non-polluting alternative for delivery

Another project that aims to reduce pollutants in the air is the iFood Regenerates, which seeks to eliminate plastic pollution from its delivery operations and also neutralize carbon emissions by 2025. To achieve these goals, the company has invested in electric vehicles, the development of sustainable packaging and recycling cooperatives.

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