John Moavenzadeh, executive director of mobility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), stated just a few days ago that “covid-19 should not be a step backward for urban mobility.” And indeed, it should be an opportunity to develop tailored solutions to the needs of citizens and companies at all times, now more than ever.Urban mobility has occupied one of the most prominent places on the management agenda for this pandemic. The role of different means of transport, both public and private, and our way to interrelate has changed, and this requires us to consider where to drive the mobility strategies of cities so that urban coexistence is more sustainable, safe and orderly.
Without open debate and structured action, the implementation of mobility models in the urban environment will lose acceleration and consistency
Recently, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce created the Mobility Commission, the first comprehensive working group on urban mobility launched in Spain to create a framework for leadership and debate so that new mobility does not stop and that the path we have to follow is consistent and throttle. Today, it can be said that we could not have created it at a better time.
The need to address the present and future of mobility is necessary in current circumstances, and therefore the Mobility Commission works on three strategic axes: interconnected mobility, safe and sustainable mobility, and planned mobility. None of these foci has a unique answer. On the contrary, responding to each of them requires a common thread with the rest. The importance with which we have to face the mobility model goes beyond the electric car, the new forms of mobility, the management of the last mile or the pedestrianization of cities. Our working group wants to go one step further. It is impossible for us to successfully face what society and the productive fabric demand without a integrated and inclusive vision.
If we want to give a coherent and lasting answer to the questions that we had open before this crisis, it is necessary to integrate the responses of the great agents who participated in this debate: companies – for which urban mobility plays a key role (automotive, logistics, telecommunications, infrastructure, security or distribution, among others) – and public administrations. Without open debate and structured action by the main actors in the future of mobility, the implementation of mobility models in the urban environment will lose acceleration and consistency. Moavenzadeh also recently underlined in a digital conference organized by SEAT House that “the covid-19 will not only present challenges in the mobility of people, but also in that of products and merchandise” It will depend on the ability and talent of each one to contribute the best of themselves to this debate that the new mobility does not stop. Let it continue and progress.
The answer to what mobility will be like from now on will be the result of open collaboration and mutual cooperation.
It is indisputable that the axes of work between the private and public sectors were already very necessary before this pandemic and, in fact, we were already working in this direction, but with the current context, this collaboration becomes more essential than ever. Now it is more important than before that the debate contributes to guide strategies and be accompanied by public and private investments with a shared destiny. The answer to what mobility will be like from now on does not have a single person, not a single company, not a single sector, not a single government. The answer will undoubtedly be the result of open collaboration and mutual cooperation.
Working from watertight compartments and not specifying the role and actions that each company or administration has to assume to respond to the sustainable well-being of people would greatly slow down the steps required by this change. Sustainable mobility requires that everyone — councils, business corporations, central and autonomous administration, intermediate institutions and regulators— let’s share and discuss address on this trip. I think that the sum of all these voices, represented in the Mobility Commission of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, will hone the final tune: make it possible.
Christian Stein is General Director of Institutional Relations at SEAT and the Volkswagen Group in Spain, and President of the Mobility Commission of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce.