Mobility is Now, But It’s Not All New

The conversations that dominate the mobility discussion today tend to be futuristic visions of people boarding driverless busses, commuters navigating city streets on electric bikes, shared electric consumer vehicles, technologies throughout the system speaking to one another, the environment around them vibrant, and the air clean. The gap between this utopian future of mobility and the current reality can make new mobility concept seem distant – but it’s closer than it seems. 

The gap between this utopian future of mobility and the current reality can make new mobility concept seem distant – but it’s closer than it seems. 

Alan Poulton

Take, for instance, the concept of a mobility hub: essentially just an intersection of different transportation modes that support a more efficient and sustainable model for getting around. This concept is anything but new – it’s the same core idea as train station: you arrive by one mode of transportation, interact with a series of technologies at the point of intersection (ticketing, check in, navigation, etc.), and then depart by way of a different mode. 

In the mobility hubs of the near future, it’s just a different mix of transportation and technologies supported than in the past. On the ground floor, eScooter docking and delivery lockers are easily accessible by both vehicles and pedestrians; on the next level, electric vehicles can charge, and cars can get cleaned or serviced; higher up, autonomous vehicles can navigate narrow parking spaces to maximize space. 

 Technology infrastructure for the digital age is akin to physical infrastructure for the industrial age. The revolutionary railroad system was powered by railroad infrastructure that was laid extensively across the United States. Similarly, a robust technology infrastructure to support goods and services is critical to supporting today’s disruptive mobility model. What I have found that people battle most with in accepting the mobility revolution is shaking outdated paradigms of assets like streets, curbsides, and parking garages. But as the adoption of transformative mobility technologies like eScooters, TNCs, and autonomous vehicles become widespread we will have to rethink the way we utilize our existing assets and likely will have to reshape our practices of getting around. 

Technology infrastructure to the technology age is akin to physical infrastructure for the industrial age. 

All the technology to support that utopian future exists today — the only problem is that the developers of these new mobility tools tend to be focused on their piece of the puzzle. We can keep stacking technology on top of technology, but we won’t be able to reach the seamless, efficient, sustainable mobility ideal our communities are seeking out until we look at how all the pieces fit together. 

We have always had hubs that perform this function subway stations, airports it’s just time to design a new form of hub to meet today’s mobility needs. 

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