Traditional transport planning often follows an approach known as "predict-and-provide". Planners estimate future growth in the use of personal motor vehicles based on past trends and calculate the infrastructre requirements needed to accommodate this growth.
Today, transport planners increasingly recognise that transport trends are far from inevitable – the infrastructural investment choices that a city makes have a profound impact on the travel behaviour of its residents.
Greater emphasis on sustainable transport modes, such as walking, cycling and public tranport, is associated with a wide range of benefits. Travelling more actively (by walking and cycling more often) is not only good for citizens' health. If mobility is planned right, it can improve the access to job opportunities and social services – a prerequisite for sound and sustainable (economic) development of cities and metropolitan areas.
At the same time, sustainable mobility patterns directly translate into better air quality and less noise. Cities also have a major role to play in reducing greenhouse pollution. Therefore, a key concern of urban mobility planning is guiding an expansion of these modes. For a city it clearly pays off to invest in sustainable transport solutions, as cities are becoming more attractive for businesses, citizens and visitors alike.
At the same time, transport energy consumption and energy dependency typically decreases in the long-term. Both national urban transport policies and urban mobility planning are therefore core elements of any climate, economic and urban development policy.
Traditional urban transport planning vs Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning
While traditional, generalist transport planning approaches focus on the movement of cars by expanding infrastructure, the emphasis should actually be laid on mobility and accessibility for all population groups. The following table compares traditional transport planning with sustainable mobility planning.