New report: Improving the Quality of Walking and Cycling in Cities

Recently, the International Transport Forum (ITF) published the report ‘Improving the Quality of Walking and Cycling in Cities’. This report examines the benefits of active mobility and highlights the importance of moving away from car-centric development. It also explores how cities developed into car-centric environments, with a particular focus on moto-normative assumptions. These are decisions about motorised transport, by individuals and policy makers, that show unconscious biases due to cultural assumptions about the role of private cars and which may systematically distort policy decisions and prevent addressing the role of the car objectively. It can result in a built-in acceptance of risks and harms from motor vehicles. The result may be that acceptance of the risks and harms of motorized traffic is built into our system. Consider, for example, traffic fatalities, environmental damage, and use of space.

The report offers recommendations for re-centering mobility spaces on people to improve the quality, enjoyment, utility, and safety of active mobility. The three main messages in the report are:

Overcome car-centric thinking

Decades of car-centric development have made its assumptions the unquestioned norm. As a result of this “moto-normativity”, risks and harms from motor vehicles may be accepted when they are unacceptable in other contexts. Many cities have begun to question this approach.

Think beyond infrastructure

Focusing on infrastructure is not enough to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists will feel safe and secure and enjoy walking and cycling. Policies must also target street violence, social disadvantages, and other factors.

Redesign planning processes

Processes for transport investments have traditionally prioritised car-centric options. A vision-led approach can provide the basis for redesigning these processes, and help ensure active travel contributes to more inclusive, sustainable cities. Work in progress across a number of cities worldwide suggests such a shift is possible.

The report draws on the deliberations of an ITF Roundtable, Increasing Cycling and Walking in Urban Mobility in November 2022 in Paris. A total of 21 experts from around the world participated in this Roundtable, led by Prof. Lake Sagaris of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Angela van der Kloof, strategic consultant at Mobycon, was invited as one of the experts to participate in this Roundtable. Her focus was “Active mobility for all, not just the few”.

The International Transport Forum at the OECD is an intergovernmental organization with 66 member countries. It acts as a think tank for transport policy and organizes the Annual Summit of transport ministers. ITF is the only global body that covers all transport modes. It works for transport policies that improve peoples’ lives with the mission to foster a deeper understanding of the role of transport in economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion and to raise the public profile of transport policy. The ITF is administratively integrated with the OECD, yet politically autonomous.

The full report can be found on the ITF website: https://www.itf-oecd.org/sites/default/files/docs/improving-quality-walking-cycling-cities.pdf

You are welcome to contact us to discuss this further.

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Angela van der Kloof

Strategic Advisor

‘Planning, promotion and education for cycling are great tools that contribute to making places thrive, people participate and be healthy, as well as to the quality of the living environment.’

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