Mobility change in metropolises: Results of the “Mobility Futures” study

According to the “Mobility Futures” study published in 2019, urban traffic all over the world will have changed by 2030. Using sustainable means of transport and doing without a car – this will be the trend over the next decade, according to the study done by the globally active trend research institute Kantar. We briefly summarised the results. With an 18% increase the use of bicycles is growing more rapidly than that of any other means of transport.

The “Mobility Futures” study is based on over 20.000 interviews with inhabitants in 31 cities from Amsterdam via Mumbai and Nairobi to Tokio and on in-depth interviews with 53 globally leading experts on mobility. The study is to serve as a basis for information on developing and planning traffic in urban areas. From the German-speaking region Berlin and Munich were covered, Vienna was not part of the study.

Each city is different – City Mobility Index

City mobility index – Top 10 cities

Using the “City Mobility Index” the existing mobility infrastructure in the 31 researched metropolises was differentiated. It was compared how affordable and available alternative traffic options such as public transport and ride alongs are.

This showed that Berlin and Oakland are global leaders for urban mobility. Berlin, for example, offers easy access to a number of public transport systems and ride alongs. In contrast, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo only have a limited public transport infrastructure. These cities often lack the financial resources or the experience to follow the trend towards sustainable transportation more rapidly.

Mobility sea change by 2030?

A sea change in mobility is set to happen in metropolises within the next decade. Already, 25% of those taking part in the survey said they were ready for a change in mobility. According to the study, the greatest opportunities for that lie in the segments of solo car drivers and users of public transport.

The study shows a drop in car traffic by 2030 and a shift towards sustainable transport. 49% of the journeys within city limits are to be covered by bike, on foot or with public transport. The use of cars would go down from currently 51% to 46%. The need for a private car is set to drop further given the ageing global population, the use of car-sharing and the emergence of self-driving cars.

Cycling and walking will profit most

Looking at sustainable means of transport available in a city, it is mainly the bike that is making an advance in urban areas. In order to get more in touch with nature and to strengthen their health, 18% more people will have switched to a bike by 2030. 15% more people will be walking. The study sees the use of public transport increasing by 6%.

Not only the environment will profit from this development but also the collective mindset and the quality of living of urban citizens. The study identifies correctly that bikes need a lot less space and can help reduce known problems such as a lack of space.

Already today, users of public transport are particularly willing to switch to other means of transport, says Kantar. In the study survey 43% say they are looking for alternatives to public transport. 37% of car drivers would switch their car for another means of transport already in 2020, the study found.

Magic word MaaS – Mobility as a service

To estimate which mobility solutions are most suited to the needs of people, Kantar developed over 20 mobility solutions. The surveyed are looking for innovative approaches such as “Mobility as a service” (MaaS). This means that several means of transport such as busses, trains, bikes, car-sharing and e-scooter are combined in a customer-friendly overall package such as an app. This can then be used, for example, to buy a single ticket for all services. Similar applications are increasingly used especially in countries in East Asia, the study noted.

Biggest potential for a sea change in mobility

A change in mobility will have particular impact on cities like Manchester, Moscow, Sao Paulo, Paris and Johannesburg. In those urban areas car traffic is set to go down by 20-36% which the use of public transport is set to increase by 27%. It comes as no surprise that the cycling city of Amsterdam is the one city that is most prepared for a sea change in mobility. With the help of subsidies and investment the cities should be able to finance the sea change in mobility.


But all 31 metropolises will have to face challenges in implementing the change in mobility: In cities like Berlin, Amsterdam and New York there is a lack of trust among citizens in the local authorities to implement sustainable mobility concepts. In contrast, Kantar found that Moscow, Jakarta and Mumbai have their citizens’ trust but are lacking the experience and financial means to implement the change as quickly as possible by 2030.

So the future of mobility is set to be designed in the world’s metropolises. In total, 37 million people in the major urban areas will have changed their mobility behaviour by 2030. Kantar is certain that more and more of them will be choosing the bike. It is also important to invest in the development of new technologies, to combine means of transport and ensure access for all.

Study director Guillaume Saint stresses the importance of understanding the needs and emotional reactions of people in choosing means of transport and to take this into account in planning: “People are much more likely to use means of transport that bring joy into their daily lives. The choice of a means of transport is more a choice for a style of living than the mere way in which to get from A to B.”

From a Cycle Competence point of view this is one more argument in favour of a bicycle – when infrastructure and framework conditions are right!

Study summary report download here.

Graphics: Kantar

Text: editors, LL

Posted on April 16, 2020