Mobility Concept

Berlin has an exceptional chance to rethink mobility in the city as new modes of transport arise. Just as the bicycle paths have been expanded over the last decade there more options to reach your destination. For the vast majority of moves in the city the “decision tree” has grown new branches. We start to change habits to consider (1) walking (2) bicycle (3) roller (4) public transport and (5) cars (electric and sharing or still owned). Multi-modality (Jelbi) in Berlin figures out the best combination for you getting from A to B. Other hybrid forms of transport start their entry in the big cities.
The last hybrid form that soon will claim an entry into the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin is the hybrid version between a bicycle and a car. The Hopper has a permission as a bicycle. It is allowed to use bicycle tracks and therefore has an advantage on the “last mile”. At the same time, it feels more like sitting in a car and a 2nd person behind you, 2 children and/or luggage or shopping bags. These hybrid forms manage to combine advantages of both original modes of transport. You may feel more safe, dry and visible on the roads like in a car, but you are not travelling at more than 25km/h. Cyclist might not be to keen to have a big competitor on their limited cycle space.
Legally the Hopper would need to take the cycle path even if the road would be empty, but there are many cyclists on the cycle path. This is a good reminder of the societal and legal issues involved in new technological solutions. Acceptability of another competitor for space in the city has to be earned. Legality has to be tested and laws interpreted, whether the hybrid form falls in one or the other pre-existing category. Otherwise, the legislator has to establish a new category altogether, but this is the very lengthy procedure. Two bicycle wheels in front and one motorbike-like wheel in the back make 2/3 bicycle and 1/3 moped.
With a stronger electric support, the bicycle becomes a pedelec and can go faster, has to use roads and is insurable against accidents. The options grow. We are likely to witness more innovation and options in the world of mobility. The proof of concept has been achieved. Finding a market for the hybrid mode of transport is another challenge. Competition and lobbying are fierce in this world of mobility as well.

Get mobile

In inner cities, plagued by horrible traffic jams and pollution by cars and lorries, we dearly await at least the one day per year without this nuisance. Mobility can be organized differently. Brussels demonstrates this in an exemplary fashion. Many families gear up for this one day to teach kids how to cycle technically without the dangers of the fight for space, speed and breathable air. Older persons also feel much more save then and walk or cycle longer distances than they usually do. So many winners and only a few forced to not use their cars during 10 hours. Massive health benefits for the whole city, especially on too warm a day in autumn 2023. All these kinds of ideas were already discussed before the COVID-19 crisis on a mobility fair in Brussels. It is not the ideas that are missing, but the political will and courage to try new ways forward. Learning that walking and cycling in cities do not hurt you, prepares the readiness to go further along this path. Just do it. And do it faster than in the past. The planet needs it, people seem to really like it, too. Enjoy.

Car free sunday Brussels 2023-9-17