Urban Culture

We all want to be mobile

Freedom as the basis of mobility

People want to be mobile and move – how, when and where they want. This basic human need is not new and is basedon an even stronger motivation: freedom. Mobility is less a goal in itself, the freedom of the individual is the desirable state. Freedom to move to where and when you want. Freedom to choose your workplace and place of residence virtually independently. These and more individual freedoms were and are (still) made possible by mobility solutions.

In the process, this desired freedom was based above all on the availability of mobility, which led first to the ownership of horses and then to the ownership of automobiles. These transport options were available to the owners at all times and allowed individual freedom.

Increasing individual traffic limits other road users

However, in recent years, driven by an increasing world population and the urge of people to the cities (urbanization), we see unprecedented external negative influences on this individual freedom: roads are full, parking space is scarce and the costs and burdens for the environment is rising

Kant is often attributed the following saying: The freedom of theĀ individual ends where the freedom of the other begins.

We are currently experiencing this phenomenon: Increasing private traffic increasingly restricts other road users in their freedom of movement, it pollutes the environment, damages the health of uninvolved citizens and thus leads to the desired opposite: non- freedom. In this situation, we are increasingly looking for new solutions. Efficiency and sufficiency play an important role here.

Concepts of efficiency are at the forefront of the current mobility discussion. Here, less intervention is made in the basic structure of the affected habitat, but an attempt is made to make the traffic (which is still considered necessary) more efficient. For example, through parking space management, autonomous driving, car sharing or smart traffic management systems. Obviously, these concepts of increasing efficiency will not be sufficient in the long term despite short-term relief.

Sufficiency has been considered rather marginally so far. This is understandable, because mobility is defined not only by an individually relevant understanding of freedom, but more concretely by the accessibility of the most important institutions for people: workplace, school, shopping or administration. Pure mobility inefficiency will be too short here.

Holistic approaches to urban planning are needed. For example, they can bring the necessary facilities closer to people’s homes or, through smart digital solutions, can make traffic largely redundant.

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