Resilience is a tricky topic when it comes to urban transport. The Paris Climate Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals signal a sustainable, resilient path forward for urban transport. But is this translating into resilient transport systems in cities?
Not exactly. At least not on a consistent basis. Transport resilience is way down on the priority list for cities dealing with air pollution, road safety and traffic congestion. There is a disconnect between global ideals and urgent day-to-day issues stemming from fossil fuel-intensive, unsafe transport systems.
Another question to consider: Do we know what resilient transport really means? Again, not exactly.
This is one reason why ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability organized an urban transport session at Resilient Cities 2017 – a first for the congress series. We need to pin down the intersection between resilience, urban transport and urban planning in concrete terms and chart a path forward.
The City of Quito, Ecuador and Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei were there to give some initial answers. Both cities are testing out new forms of transport. Quito is looking into a new metro system, cable cars and bus rapid transit, while Kaohsiung is about to initiate the EcoMobility World Festival, a month-long sustainable transport experiment.
For both cities, resilient transport systems are fundamentally about giving people options that make them safer and better connected. A sprawling city like Quito can only become resilient if transport links to residents who are cut off from central services and infrastructure. In Kaohsiung, it is about moving away from a scooter-reliant culture and creating safer spaces for pedestrians and multimodal options.
This gives us a sampling of the different forms resilient transport can take on the ground. But beyond these examples, what are some universally applicable principles that can take this concept forward? Define, measure, integrate just about sums it up:
- Define: Craft a simple methodology that merges resilience and transport concepts so that people can find their place in the discussion.
- Measure: Collect and publish reliable data and tracking mechanisms to inform planning decisions. There are currently no data that measure the resilience of urban transport.
- Integrate: Think about the impacts of mobility across different sectors and scales.
Now it is time to deepen this budding conversation.