A debate in Delhi about how to finance the metro rail system offers lessons for the rest of the world. WRI India CEO O.P. Agarwal explains.
sustainable urban mobility
For the Commonwealth, green growth has entered Phase Three, recognizing that sustained economic growth can only be achieved by investing in low-carbon and less-polluting models of development. WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer explains.
Fifteen of the world’s leading transport and technology companies signed the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities today, pledging to prioritize people over vehicles, lower emissions, promote equity and encourage data sharing, among other goals. The companies include: BlaBlaCar, Citymapper, Didi, Keolis, LimeBike, Lyft, Mobike, Motivate, Ofo, Ola, Scoot Networks, Transit, Uber, Via and Zipcar.
WRI made the case that improving urban services for the under-served – including affordable housing and safe and sustainable mobility – can generate economic, environmental and social benefits for all city residents. WRI’s research and meetings helped inform the New Urban Agenda, a UN declaration signed by 167 nations that lays out a 20-year roadmap for sustainable urban development.
As many as 70 percent of urban dwellers in the Global South lack access to one or more core city services, including housing, water and sanitation, energy and transportation. This problem is poised to worsen as 2.5 billion more people take up residence in cities by 2050. The decisions taken by policymakers today will determine whether cities can grow while improving citizens’ quality of life, or perpetuate a cycle of low productivity, poverty and environmental degradation for the rest of the century and beyond.
In 2015, WRI launched the first installment of its latest World Resources Report, Towards a More Equal City, finding that meeting the needs of the urban under-served can help make cities more economically prosperous, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable. In the two years leading up to the landmark UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (Habitat III) in Quito, WRI brought together leaders and experts to explore the opportunities and challenges of prioritizing core services and policies related to affordable housing, water and sanitation, safe and sustainable transportation, sustainable land use, low-carbon energy, accessible green spaces and parks, transparent data and governance practices, and climate resilient infrastructure. WRI worked with partners including the UN-Habitat Secretariat, NGOs, and ministries from Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK to include these priorities in the New Urban Agenda, a UN declaration setting a vision for urban development for the next two decades.
In October 2016, the New Urban Agenda, adopted by 167 countries, explicitly included safe and sustainable mobility and affordable housing as elements in making cities more sustainable and equitable. This Agenda sets a new global standard for sustainable urban development, providing a roadmap for building cities that can serve as engines of prosperity and cultural and social well-being while protecting the environment. WRI will now engage with national and subnational governments as they implement the New Urban Agenda and, through the World Resources Report, will continue to research sustainable and equitable urban development strategies.
India’s cities are clogged with cars that pollute the air. In Bhopal, WRI and partners designed a new bike sharing system that is the first in India to provide segregated lanes and that also helps link to public transportation. The system attracted 25,000 members in its first five months and is inspiring other cities to launch similar projects.
Half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India, where vehicle emissions account for almost a third of air pollution and severely impact health and quality of life. Bicycles, which could help relieve this pollution, are often regarded as inferior because they are widely used by poorer people. Bicycle infrastructure is a low priority, which means that biking is often unsafe. Public transportation, which could also help reduce pollution, has a persistent last-mile problem which deters people from using the system because of the distance between stops or stations and final destinations like homes or offices. As a result, many middle-income people opt to drive, resulting in increased congestion, air pollution and traffic fatalities.
WRI India researched public bicycle sharing (PBS) systems to identify key factors in successful systems. Over four years, WRI conducted capacity-building and facilitated data- and knowledge-sharing among existing and upcoming bicycle sharing systems, including the recently launched PBS in Mysore. WRI supported Bhopal Municipal Corporation in planning and designing a system around residential and commercial transportation nodes, aiming to make it easier to connect to the Bhopal Bus Rapid Transit System while improving safety for cyclists. Learning from challenges other PBS systems faced, WRI and Bhopal convened technology suppliers, financing institutions and public agencies to develop an innovative public-private partnership to help ensure the quality, usability and viability of the system.
In June 2017, Bhopal launched India’s only fully-automated PBS system with segregated bike lanes. The system has 500 bicycles and 60 docking stations throughout the city and opened with 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) of dedicated bike lanes, which help increase rider safety and save lives. In five months, more than 25,000 users have registered, more than half of them women. Plans to expand the Bhopal bike lane network to over 50 kilometers (31 miles) in the next few years would create the most extensive dedicated bike path network in India. Other PBS systems, including Mysore’s, are now exploring this feature.
New mobility services could improve the lives of all urban inhabitants. This first ever global survey finds that applying three types of new mobility services – electric, on-demand minibuses, subsidized shared rides, and trip-planning and ticketing apps – can make public transport more...
WRI Brasil's Urban Mobility Director brings expertise in engineering and communication to the creation of integrated transit networks.
Cycling is exploding in popularity in Chinese cities, but designing the built infrastructure to channel this enthusiasm remains a significant challenge.
Electric vehicles are cleaner, but they're only part of the climate solution.
Encouraging Design Practices for Sustainable Mobility in Indian Townships: A Guidebook, is WRI India’s publication that highlights the role of urban design interventions that can be applied in townships or gated communities in cities, that promote the use of sustainable modes such as walking,...