Hi everyone, today’s episode is presented with colleagues in the London Legacy Development Corporation, which is co-ordinating this year’s Climathon event in London. The theme is Urban Mobility, which is also being explored in Almada, Tallinn and Zurich. In this episode we will divide the topic into 4 sections in order to explore the words and terms used. Firstly, we will look at Vehicle Technologies, then Infrastructure, thirdly at Demand side responses and finally at logistics. I am delighted to be joined by Jack Connors a Sustainability Project Officer with the Corporation who is part of the co-ordinating team for the event this year. He will explain the context for the event.
The London Legacy development corporation are running Climathon with Plexal* and Here East* this year as we want to develop the most sustainable and advanced approaches to urban mobility in London. We’re responsible for the management of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We see part of that legacy as using the Park to develop, test and showcase the best approaches to city challenge like urban mobility, and we hope Climathon will act as a spring board for new, localised urban mobility solutions that we can develop into the future.
Thank you, Jack. So Mobility refers to the quality of being mobile and generally to the movement of people going about their daily lives. We use the term Logistics when referring to the transport of goods. Logistics also refers to the flow of energy and information in our globalised economy. This has become a really important factor for businesses in most industries. The flow of both people and goods into and out of a large city involves a huge amount of information, communication and organisation, and this is often referred to as Mobility Management. The European Union has been advising city authorities to develop and adopt a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan – commonly called a SUMP – in order to reduce the impact of the transport sector in general. This involves reducing the emissions and also improving the accessibility and social benefits of different types of transport. Each type of transport such as cars, trains, trams etc is called a Mode of transport, and the term multi-modal, or combined modal, refers to when more than one mode is involved in the transport of goods. For example, a shipping container that is transported also on either rail or road in reaching its destination. When used in reference to a person’s journey, multimodal means the use of different modes of transport for different trips over a given time. For example, over a period of a week one might walk to the shops, take the bus to work and the Underground into the city. The term Intermodal refers to using different forms of transport within one trip – such as using a private car to the station and then the tram into the city. Within sustainability the drive is to promote what are called soft modes which refer to walking, cycling, skateboarding, roller skating and others. Because these promote a healthier and more active types of transport they are also called Active modes.
We have all heard about electric vehicles and driverless cars which use new technologies in vehicles to improve not just emissions but also how we use cars. The term Clean Mobility is used to describe alternative fuels with fewer emissions than fossil fuels, such as hydrogen fuel cells or electric engines. Technology is also being used to change how we drive, and our relationships with private vehicles and the ownership model. The word Autonomous means independence, or the lack of control from outside. When applied to vehicles it means without a human driver. It uses a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence and global positioning systems to drive the car. The letters LIDAR or LIDAR are often used and stand for Light Imaging, Detection and Ranging, which refer to the range of technologies used for autonomous vehicles. The development of driverless cars grabs the headlines but there have been many other forms of autonomous mobility over the past number of years. For example, the Docklands Light Railway service that has been serving east London since 1987 using minimal staffing and carrying 12 million passengers every year.
As with many other sustainability initiatives the main problems lie in the underlying infrastructure which is fundamentally unsustainable. An example of a necessary change to infrastructure would be the development of cycle lanes and stations for urban bike schemes. Another would be the provision of an adequate number of Charging points suitable for owners and users to be able to re-charge their electric cars when needed. These may be either the standard type or suitable for rapid charging. A new development is Induction charging, which is a type of wireless charging that is very convenient for users. This can also work for public transport buses as well as private cars. The term e-mobility is used to refer to all types of electric vehicles. Another infrastructure facility required is Refuelling hubs where hydrogen and bio-diesels would be available for cars with these engines.
Co-ordinating the different modes of transport aims to provide what is called an Intelligent Transport System for the benefit of all users. This optimizes the use of existing infrastructure through linking traffic signals, journey planners, ticketing systems and communications between modes. The commuters in London use the Oyster card – a contactless payment card – which allows individuals to travel efficiently using different services along the journey. The tracking of such journeys by the service providers allows them to provide more intelligent and responsive services. Users are then more inclined to use the public transport services. For example, the organisation Transport for London has used their wifi network linked to passengers’ smart phones to better map and improve the flow of people using the service.
All of these technology innovations are leading to a re-think of transportation from the ownership model to what is called Transportation as a Service or Mobility as a Service. There is now a wide range of new options for the user such as Ride sharing, which is where more than one person travels in a car, also known as car pooling. Another option is car sharing a model of car rental where short term rental allows city dwellers to access vehicles without the need for ownership. These services are hugely facilitated by the growth in use of smart phones which allows travellers to connect on the move. The benefits of these services include reduced emissions, better use of the vehicles and freeing users from the costs and concerns of ownership. The ability to request a lift from mobile devices or computers is referred to as e-hailing, from the phrase ‘to hail a taxi’ when ordering a taxi. These services are still experiencing resistance and difficulties in some markets due to legislation and other issues. Only this week Transport for London has declined to renew Uber’s licence for London on the basis that it was not a fit and proper private car hire operator. There is also bike-sharing, particularly the urban bike schemes, where each bike is used continuously by different users.
The goal of re-thinking transport like this is to reduce the use of private car journeys through influencing the demand. There are Demand led initiatives which can be either Push – that is aimed at making private cars less attractive – or Pull – which are aimed at making public transport more attractive.
Technology is having an ever increasing role in the operation of all transport modes. We hear of the use of drones being used to deliver small packages to individuals. The Internet of Things – which allows physical devices to connect and exchange data in previously unimagined ways – is being used to provide the infrastructure for a more efficient transportation service. The terms Location Intelligence or Spatial Intelligence refers to the use of layers of data linked to specific locations and so give insights into the working relationships over time – for instance, understanding the traffic flows at different times of the day, week or year. Another innovation being tested for truck delivery is Platooning, which refers to a small convoy of trucks with a driver in the lead truck and using technology to omit the need for drivers in the other vehicles. These are just some of the advances being made that will radically change the way we travel and transport goods within the urban cities of the future. The upcoming Climathon event will give participants a role in progressing these advances in a very practical and real way.
That concludes this episode in the series and we hope you have found this useful and informative. My thanks to our colleagues in London for their help and support with putting this episode together. We are excited to develop similar episodes with other Climathon cities over the next few weeks. Good luck to all those working to make the Climathon event happen.