Sustainable transport requires an ambitious vision and actionable strategies for future-proof mobility solutions. Dr Jörn Richert, CEO at Mobility Institute Berlin (mib), explains how sustainable mobility can be achieved and gives examples of successful initiatives.
The transportation sector plays a critical role in our daily lives, providing us with access to work, education, and social opportunities. However, traditional modes of transportation rely heavily on fossil fuels which contribute to climate change, air pollution, and take up a substantial amount public space. As a result, there is a growing need for a transition to sustainable mobility – particularly in urban areas.
Founded in 2018, Mobility Institute Berlin, is a forward-thinking consulting firm consisting of a team of talented transportation and urban planners, business experts and data analysts. Collectively, their aim is to collaborate with government, businesses and communities to create cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable transportation systems for future generations.
Award winning Dr Jörn Richert, CEO of Mobility Institute Berlin, has an extensive background in sustainability, strategic planning and organisational change. His passion for revolutionising public transportation and improving city spaces has enabled him to play a major role in developing mib into a flourishing strategic consulting organisation with an impressive portfolio of projects. Here he gives us a fascinating insight into the world of strategic planning, and how a holistic approach to implementing futureproof transport for cities is needed.
Jörn, you are working with a variety of stakeholders to make mobility more sustainable. Cities, so you argue, should take a visionary approach to transport planning. Why is that?
For us, a mobility vision is not just a positive image of the future, but also an effective governance tool. Last year, we interviewed 60 stakeholders from pioneering cities around the world that are successfully working with visions for urban mobility. Cities included London, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Medellin, Boston, Detroit and many others. Our work shows how a good vision advances sustainable mobility in three ways.
Firstly, once established, the vision ensures that people are working towards to the same shared goal. It is vital for planners and other stakeholders to agree on such a shared course of action, because it helps them to tie detailed discussions back to that overall vision. This makes the resolution of conflict in more concrete debates much easier.
Secondly, a vision helps to prioritise funding, personnel and management attention. This helps tremendously in bringing relevant projects to life while dismissing options which are not deemed important or necessary.
And thirdly, I’d say that a defined vision sees the project through unforeseen challenges and disruptions. A strategic vision provides a clear path through uncertain times and allows for quicker responses, since people know where they want to go.
With so many stakeholders’ views and opinions to consider as well as perhaps the more individual or unique city settings involved in a transportation project, developing a vision and bringing it to life is obviously not an easy task. Could you briefly run through your strategy for ensuring a vision is successful?
We find it helps to break this down into five distinctive areas of action:
- Creating a bold and ambitious story that puts people at the heart of the project. For instance, those who may not initially support transformational shift may agree with the need for safer streets, cleaner air and an improved quality of life. These are real tangible outcomes in formulating an approach.
- Engaging the right stakeholders (groups, authorities and individuals) at the right time. Some will have more authority and influence than others. It’s important to have a clear understanding of their roles, and then build a dedicated and committed team with the expertise to champion the cause and bring the vision to life.
- Using public engagement to build a city movement. Ultimately transformation is about reinvigorating public space, reducing accidents, and limiting the effects of climate change. A reminder of why certain measures need to be implemented helps to shift people’s mentalities and win over those with biased opinions or doubts.
- Transforming the vision into a living strategy. This requires flexibility to adapt to change, and a constant dialogue. We break the vision down into concrete targets with a purpose, structure, timeline and measurable action plan so we can monitor progress. The ability to act swiftly and decisively is vital, as witnessed in navigating the unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic with the creation of cycle lanes and pedestrian pathways.
- The fifth area centres around leveraging existing funding, creating further opportunities and working with stakeholders to achieve the best ways to acquire funding. For example, the London Congestion Charge introduced in 2003 in combination with the Low Emission Zone brought in during 2008 generates approximately £232 million annually. This capital is being invested by TfL (Transport for London) into improving London’s public transport system.
You’ve generated quite a bit of insight there. How do you use that insight in your work for clients?
For us, this study was an opportunity to gather a tremendous amount of best practice examples across a variety of urban mobility issues. From this, we developed policy and mobility planning toolboxes that we apply in client projects.
For example, we helped the city of Cologne in building their own Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. In another project we collaborated with Munich to design a new Micromobility-Sharing System.
In other projects, for example with the major public transport companies in Berlin and Hamburg, we used our insights on strategic planning and stakeholder management to make the companies’ own planning departments ready for creating a high class public transport offer. Berlin based Mobility Institute Berlin (mib) aims to make sustainable urban mobility simpler and more attractive for residents and commuters. Its multi-talented team have worked with reputable transport companies such as Deutsche Bahn, Flix, and Share Now, large public transport companies such as Berlin’s BVG and Hamburg’s HOCHBAHN, as well as large cities such as Munich and Cologne to help shape the future of sustainable mobility. For further information and details of the work of this innovative strategic consulting organisation, please visit the company website:https://mobilityinstitute.com/en