When we think about designing the future city, let’s focus on moving as many people as possible. For a starting point, considering how many people can move through a city using each transportation option:
Transit moves the most people – up to 25,000 people per hour, so make transit the first priority.
Next comes walking, with 9,000 people per hour on new, larger sidewalks.
Dedicated bus lanes carry 8,000 passengers an hour. Two-way bike lanes carry 7,500 per hour. Those come next.
Whether they have drivers or not, cars move the fewest people per hour – about 600 to 1,600.
When we understand that urban transportation is about moving – people not cars – our priorities for space and investment become obvious.
There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for sustainable mobility in cities. As the Index demonstrates, mobility challenges differ from city to city and vary according to geographical, ecological, economic and political factors. In this section, we outline some of the top trends in urban mobility as well as looking to the future to provide food for thought for those responsible for their city’s mobility.
Why do we focus on cities? First, the world is rapidly urbanizing—by 2050, 75% of the world’s population will live in cities. Second, global pressures that play out at a city scale − such as climate change, disease pandemics, economic fluctuations, and terrorism − pose new challenges and uncertainty. Sudden shocks or accumulating stresses in cities can cause significant damage and disruption; in 2011, the cost of natural disasters was estimated at over $380 billion. Because city systems are interconnected, breakdowns can lead to multiple or sequential failure. At worst, this can result in social breakdown, physical collapse, or economic decline.
Well-established European cities dominate the top of the overall ranking making up 16 of the top 20 positions. They are joined by the advanced Asian cities of Singapore (in second place), Seoul (7th) and Hong Kong (16th) as well as Australia’s capital, Canberra (18th). Cities around the world are living at extremes, not balancing these pillars of sustainability. While taking the lead in some areas, cities often sit lower in one area of sustainability. How can cities do more to ensure that as they develop and implement strategies and policies to address the considerable challenges they face – from environmental to socio-economic – they do so in a way that puts people first and at the forefront of their sustainability?
Quoctrung Bui, Matt A.V. Chaban And Jeremy White, New York Times, May 20 2016
As the zoning code enters its second century, it is worth considering the ways it has shaped the city; whether and where it is still working; and how it might be altered so the city can continue to grow without obliterating everything New Yorkers love about it.
Which cities will contribute the most to global growth or rank among the top 25 cities by population or per capita GDP? Which cities will contribute the largest number of children or elderly in the world? How will regional patterns of growth differ?