Last summer, Spain promoted cleaner transportation by offering free seasonal tickets for suburban and regional trains, which translated into roughly 48 million journeys per month. The initiative hoped to help citizens reduce fuel consumption and reduce the cost of living during the economic uncertainties and rising energy prices. In the summer of 2022, a 30% discount for municipal public transport was announced, with local governments in places like Catalonia topping up to a 60% discount. The program ran between the 1st of September and the 31st of December of last year.
Urban Mobility: The Latest Architecture and News
Los Angeles Plans to Implement the Park Block Pilot, a Car-Free Grid Inspired by Barcelona's Superblock Model
Los Angeles officials have voted on a motion to implement the first Park Block, a pilot project that creates a car-free grid of city streets to open up public space for pedestrians and cyclists, as reported by NBC Los Angeles. The plan takes inspiration from Barcelona’s Superblock program, which creates groups of nine blocks in the district of Eixample and restricts the traffic to the outside streets, freeing up the rest of the streets for pedestrian and local transit only. Implemented in 2016, the plan has led to reduced levels of air pollution, urban noise and traffic fatalities. A similar program is now planned for Los Angeles, United States.
Ambitious technologists have claimed for decades that self-driving cars are the future. Yet, looking at recent years, the biggest revolution has come from vehicles on two wheels, not four. Fueled by the pandemic, increased oil prices, climate change and the desire for healthier lifestyles, we are now living in the midst of a bicycle renaissance. But to understand how we got here, it is crucial to look back. When the automobile became more widespread in the early 1900s, it quickly became a symbol of progress along with all it entailed: speed, privatisation and segregation. Adopting a car-centric approach, urban planners had to reorganise entire cities to separate traffic. Cars took over public spaces that used to host dynamic city life and parking lots, highways and gas stations became common landscapes. Pedestrians that once ruled the streets were herded into sidewalks and children relegated to fenced playgrounds. Ironically, cities were being designed for cars (not humans).
It is expected that by 2050, the rapid depletion of raw materials will leave the world without enough sand and steel to build concrete. On the other hand, the cost of building continues to soar, with an increase between 5% and 11% from last year. And with respect to its impact on the environment, the construction industry still accounts for 23% of air pollution, 50% of the climatic change, 40% of drinking water pollution, and 50% of landfill wastes. Evidently, the construction industry, the environment, and the human race are facing several challenges that are influenced by one another, but it is the human being who is at the greatest disadvantage.
As a response to global challenges such as climate change, discrimination, and physical vulnerability, designers and engineers from across the world have developed innovative construction materials that put the human wellbeing first in urban, architecture, and interior projects.
The former Berlin-Tegel Airport is set to be redeveloped. The master plan includes the Schumacher Quartier, a new residential district with 200 hectares of landscaped area, and a research and industrial park for urban technologies, Berlin TXL – the Urban Tech Republic. Besides creating a space for industry, business, and science, the innovation park aims to research and test urban technologies. The park will focus on major themes in the development of cities: the efficient use of energy, sustainable construction, eco-friendly mobility, recycling, networked control of systems, clean water, and the application of new materials.
MAD Architects Reveals Design for the Mobility and Logistic Hub, MOLO, a Gateway Complex near Milan, Italy
MAD Architects led by Ma Yansong, unveiled renderings of the MoLo, short for Mobility and Logistic hub, a new gateway situated along the western boundary of the Milano Innovation District (MIND). In collaboration with Architect Andrea Nonni, Open Project, and Progeca, the 28.5 meters high complex brings together several facilities across 68,700sqm of surfaces. Designed as an integration of nature and architecture, the MoLo “performs as a welcoming entrance and education space for issues related to mobility in which visitors can drop off their cars to explore the district on foot and see innovative transportation technology in person”.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
The new, online NYC Climate Dashboard confirms that New York City is not doing enough to meet its climate goals. What’s worse, the goals don’t measure up to the challenge citizens face. A growing consensus among scientists says the world has only until the end of this decade to avert catastrophic climate change. Here in New York, the biggest contributions to greenhouse gasses come from our buildings and our driving. As an architect and urban designer, John Massengale shares what he believes the world is missing and some significant changes that the world can make for the sake of future generations.
Various cities have been experimenting with wavering fees for public transport in an effort to promote sustainable mobility, alleviate traffic congestion and decrease social inequality. This past February, Salt Lake City has paused fare collection for a month to reduce carbon emissions in the region. At the end of March, the Italian city of Genoa extended free access to some of its public transport networks, following a successful experiment which began at the end of 2021 and in an ambitious plan to become the first Italian city with free transportation. Meanwhile, the small duchy of Luxembourg became the world’s first country with free public transit in 2020.
Following California's Covid-19 health regulations in early 2020, Metro, the Los Angeles public transit agency stopped collecting fares on its busses as a safety precaution measure. However, the company's decision turned into the United States' biggest free-transit experiment, as ridership never dipped below 50 percent, even with the stay-at-home orders enforced by the government. Following 22 months of the decision and around 281 million fare-free transits, the company has decided to restart collecting fares, but is planning on using the information gathered throughout these two years to implement future improvements and introduce other free or reduced-fare programs in the city.
Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei (People’s Decision for Auto-Free Berlin), has proposed a plan to limit cars within Berlin's Ringbahn, a long circle route around the inner city, making it the world's largest car-free area once approved. The citizen-initiative is aimed mostly at banning the use of private cars in central Berlin, with the exception of emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, taxis, delivery vehicles, and residents with limited mobility, who would all be given special access permits.
As part of Milan's ongoing vision of bicycle-friendly highways, the Metropolitan Council of Milan has approved its Biciplan “Cambio” project, a new transportation system that introduces "super-cycle" corridors across the urban fabric, prioritizing cycling, environmental protection, safety, and wellbeing. The project aims to compliment existing cycle paths with 750 kilometers of new corridors that will connect the city's 133 communes with its wider metropolitan area, and increase the amount of bicycle trips and reach by 10% internally and 20% on a greater scale.
EU Prioritizes Sustainable Urban Mobility in New Proposals Set to Reduce Transportation Carbon Emissions by 90%
In December, the European Commission adopted several proposals that put the transport sector on track for a 90% reduction in carbon emissions, moving a step further in implementing the European Green Deal. The initiatives seek to increase rail transport, encouraging long-distance and cross-border rail travel, support the roll-out of charging points for electric vehicles and alternative refuelling infrastructure and further develop multimodality.
Although disability laws have been put in place decades ago, architects are still struggling with disability requirements. A recent article by CityLab explored how the rise of speed and efficiency-driven cities have overlooked accessibility, neglecting the needs of people who are physically unable to live or keep up with these dense neighborhoods. And while the "15-Minute City", one that allows people to walk or bike to most essential services within 15 minutes of their home, may seem as the future of built environments, it does not cater to disabled individuals or their movements.
Rumor had it that behind the walls of historic subway station Cal y Canto in Santiago de Chile, a hidden ghost station would eventually link to Line 3—a planned route that was part of the original Metro master plan designed in the 60s. Its construction would have been shelved after the magnitude-7.8 1985 earthquake that forced public resources to be redirected for the reconstruction of the Chilean central valley.
34 years later, the Cal y Canto Metro station finally opened its connection with Line 3, the most recent addition to the rapid transit system, thus becoming the seventh line of Santiago after lines 1, 2, 4, 4A, 5, and 6.
The prominent Brazilian urbanist Jaime Lerner has passed away this Thursday, May 27, at the age of 83. Trained as an architect, Lerner was chosen by the American magazine Planetizen as the second most influential urban planner of all time, only behind Jane Jacobs. In addition to his career linked to architecture and urban planning, Lerner was three times mayor of Curitiba and twice governor of Paraná (1995-1998 and 1999-2002). Lerner graduated in Architecture in 1964 from the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) and worked at the Curitiba Institute for Research and Urbanism (Ippuc) since its creation in 1965.
In our increasingly urbanized world, everything and everyone has adopted a lifestyle of nomadism. New environmental and social constraints have forced people to have a constant "on-the-go" behavior, so much so that almost everything has acquired wheels, even the buildings. But with the rise of debates like "is humankind being replaced by robots?" and "is technology taking over?", urban mobility has helped give access to housing, healthcare, and education in places with extreme difficult conditions.
To shed the light on globally-thriving mobile activities, the France-based Institut pour Ville en Mouvement, or City on the Move Institute, is an organization that has been addressing the challenges posed by urban mobility and contributing to the emergence of innovative solutions. In a series of short Youtube clips, the organization invited experts in the fields of architecture, urban planning, and technology to share their insights on the future of urban mobility.