Autonomous driving will bring comprehensive traffic calming

We asked our speakers and wanted to know what their most urgent mobility topics are, how they see the future of mobility and what they are looking forward to at SHIFT Mobility 2020 this year.

Prof. Dr. Heiner Monheim is actually a geographer, urban planner and traffic expert, but describes himself as a border crosser between science and practice. And as such, he has been fighting for years with a great deal of passion and energy for more livable cities, better public transport, and a modern, innovative transport policy and against crazy large-scale projects.

Who is your personal mobility pioneer?

There are several:

For reclaiming public space: Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

For the digital mobility support: All Chinese cities with their online services for ride and bike sharing.

For an almost perfect public transport system: Switzerland and there especially Zurich and Bern with their excellent tram and bus systems.

For a good bicycle transport system: the Münsterland region with Münster, Bocholt, Borken and their rural surroundings or in the Netherlands Amsterdam, Delft, Utrecht and Groningen. For a good foot traffic system in Germany: Wismar, Stralsund, Freiburg and Leipzig.

How do you define mobility?

For me, mobility is the movement of people, goods, merchandise, and information in space. Physical mobility then becomes traffic, mass car traffic becomes congestion.

What do you see as the most important megatrends in the field of mobility, what are the opportunities and what are the biggest challenges?

Digitization is revolutionizing the information and disposition of mobility. People are no longer willing to accept the traffic chaos caused by cars and the resulting climate and environmental damage and inefficiencies. Fridays for future are setting the standard worldwide. And Corona has proven that it can be done differently.

Do we use the full potential of digitization to change the mobility experience according to social and ecological needs?

No, we are still making far too little use of the digital options. Mobility providers are still stuck in the analogue and conventional world of traffic organization. True to the motto: concrete instead of brains!

What role can and must individual transport play in the future?

Individual foot and bicycle traffic are increasing. They have many efficiency advantages, as they are truly individual and offer a great deal of freedom. Mass car traffic, on the other hand, must be massively reduced, for reasons of cost, efficiency, and climate and environmental protection. The car age with car traffic dominating everything else is coming to an end.

How can future technologies and sustainability be reconciled in terms of mobility?

The question is which future technologies are meant. Flight taxis or drones, for example, have little chance of mass deployment. They take up too much space and, like car traffic, are highly susceptible to disruption. Autonomous driving will change a lot. Since autonomous motor vehicles in mixed traffic have to be slowed down at 20 km/h, this speed limit will bring about an area-wide traffic calming. Only lane guided traffic can drive faster. Digitalization in conjunction with modern sensor technology is a truly relevant future technology that will put an end to the archaic, often fatal processes in today’s chaotic traffic.

How do we design the cities of the future?

The city of the future will be compact, mixed-use and yet have many open spaces (green, water) because monofunctional traffic areas can be minimized. It is a city of short distances and resource- and space-efficient mobility, in which high speeds, endless traffic jams and metal deserts on large car parks are a thing of the past.

How can we as a society develop a sustainable, integrated, interdisciplinary mobility ecosystem?

Through transparency on costs and follow-up costs, through honest communication on the many benefits, through disempowering the old fossil lobbies and through creative mobility design in the above sense.

If you were allowed to design the mobility of the future, what would it look like in 2084?

Without cars in the present sense. With a much denser rail network, many new tram and suburban railway systems, many new city, local and rural bus systems. With a financing system that imposes real costs on the public, private and business sectors and sets investment priorities according to issues of climate and environmental compatibility and efficiency.

What are you most looking forward to at SHIFT Mobility 2020?

A fair, open discussion without the usual reflex reactions, with an atmosphere of creative imagination where everyone listens to each other.