Shared Mobility Access

 

Improving access to shared and sustainable transport solutions for excluded groups

Background

People need a certain degree of mobility in order to fully participate in society. Those who are not mobile enough, experience many problems in daily life. These problems caused by limited mobility can lead to transport poverty. Due to the cutbacks in public transport and the increasing importance of the car, more and more people have to deal with limited mobility. This is offset by the emergence of new forms of mobility, such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS).  The aim of MaaS is to provide an alternative to the use of the private car that may be as convenient, more sustainable,  help to reduce congestion and constraints in transport capacity, and can be even cheaper. 

Shared mobility can be a solution for people who have to deal with limited mobility (transport poverty). However, sharing mobility solutions are often too expensive or do not take into account digital limitations of certain population groups. This excludes groups of the population who are on the wrong side of the ‘digital divide’, such as the elderly, vulnerable people and those in lower income brackets. Only 20% of people over 80 work with a computer every day. 34% of people over 60 never use the internet.

Description

Less mobile persons such as seniors can find it difficult to use traditional means of public transport for short journeys. Taxis often refuse short journeys, and the bus company is further reducing its dense city network. The car is often the only means by which the elderly can move further than 300 metres from their home, contributing to the fact that more than half of the people of Mechelen over 80 still regularly use cars.

However, other city policies, such as Mechelen City of Bike, aim at reducing car journeys, especially in the city centre. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for the elderly and other less mobile people to move around. If local shops, banks, bakers and other basic facilities close, then these people become dependent on others for their ability to get out and about.

This lack of mobility means the elderly stay at home more,  and as a result, have less contact with others. This leads to a problem of increasing isolation (a recent survey found 8% of people over 60 feel seriously lonely and 35% moderately lonely).

For other vulnerable groups, such as those living in denser housing areas,  cargo bikes are an environmentally friendly means of transport that saves on fuel. It is ideal to transport loads or children in the city without getting stuck in traffic. But many residents have no place to park a cargo bike at home or cannot afford it. People also do not constantly need a cargo bike. That is why sharing a cargo bike among groups of  local residents could be the perfect circular solution. When investigating the potential providers of shared cargo bikes, however, we came to the conclusion that the systems and services were not developed to include vulnerable people.

Expected Outcomes

  • Shared mobility system that is  affordable and e-inclusive, and have the opportunity for scale;
  • Integrated transport planning tools for elder people; 
  • MaaS solutions for people with transport difficulties.

Expected Impacts

  • The number of excluded people (vulnerable citizens, people over 60 or people with a disability) in Mechelen who use transport alternatives for short journeys;
  • Increase in number of journeys made by sustainable transport;
  • Within the identified group of people with traffic poverty the number of users  of shared mobility has increased.