HOW MOBILE ARE WE AND HOW DID WE GET HERE? (2018 New Mobility Master Class: Draft for comment)

The mobility/growth paradigm (or the mobility complex)

– By John Whitelegg, extract from his book MOBILITY. A New Urban Design and Transport Planning Philosophy for a Sustainable Future, Chapters 2 and 3. For more on the New Mobility Master Class program click here –  https://goo.gl/BB2pPE

Mobility is most commonly measured, if at all, as total distance travelled per annum per capita in kilometres and/or total distance travelled per day per capita. There are other important dimensions e.g. number of trips made per day or number of destinations that can be accessed by different modes of transport in a defined unit of time but these are not generally measured in a systematic way or included in data sets. Usually mobility is not defined. It has become a rather vague concept associated with quality of life or progress and it is invoked as a “good thing” and something that should be increased. This is very clear in most national transport policies and at the European level where major transport policies and funding mechanisms are increasingly framed.

A recent EU research and development document (European Commission 2013a) begins with the main heading “Mobility for growth.” It does not define mobility. The document is an undiluted manifesto accepting and promoting the growth of mobility and advocating the importance of this growth for the success of wider economic policy objectives, asserting the unquestioned importance of endless economic growth and ignoring the voluminous literature on the impossibility of endless economic growth and of ecological and resource limits to growth (Douthwaite, 1992, Schneidewind, 2014).

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