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The future of mobility – A challenge for society

by Heiko Müller

A whole host of people are presently considering the question about the future of mobility – politicians, business people, scientists, urban planners, car manufacturers, bike manufacturers, share scheme providers. The list is literally endless. However, the underlying interests driving this shift are equally diverse.

Heiko Müller

Mobility is one of the decisive factors for the positive development of modern societies. In recent decades, pollution caused by our mobile lifestyle has become steadily worse, however. Globalisation and urbanisation are giving rise to worsening traffic problems in our city centres and high levels of particulate pollution from car exhaust fumes. Is there a future for this kind of mobility? Mobility is only future-proof if it is considered sustainable and emission-free and, in particular, if it reduces nitrogen oxides, puts man centre stage in his habitat. This will not happen automatically but, above all, through new infrastructure planning that will help people to consider the issue from a new angle. Bikes have always played a key role in this. Many examples already demonstrate that this will also continue to be the case in future. A key example of this is the city of Copenhagen – the world’s most bike-friendly city, with over 60% bike users. The city of Copenhagen is a prime example of how the needs of people can be taken into account in infrastructure plans and how the aim of all concepts always needs to be the risk-free movement of people around the city. A prerequisite for this is the need for every road user to have their own space and therefore be able to move safely and quickly around the city.

More space for new approaches to mobility in towns and cities is just one of many building blocks needed to achieve social change. Concepts such as sustainable bike sharing can also help to ease congestion in urban spaces. A flagship concept that reduces car traffic in towns and cities, enhancing the quality of life in city centres, already exists in Switzerland. The Swiss provider carvelo2go has set up a rental system for E-Cargo bikes and will be launching an E-Cargo bike fleet of over 300 Riese & Müller Packster 60 models onto the roads by the end of 2019. The system works very simply. Users sign up on the carvelo2go website and can book a bike there for a defined period of time. The E-Cargo bike can then be collected from the nearest baker, café or also from participating retailers, and used for shopping, the transport of goods or excursions with the family to the lake or park. One of the funders behind the share scheme is the Swiss automobile club TCS, whose Mobility Academy has committed itself to promoting and developing pioneering and sustainable forms of mobility. Schemes like carvelo2go have been shown to ease the burden in towns and cities by providing a real alternative to the car. Fewer car trips means an improved climate, reduced congestion and fewer parking space problems. Here at Riese & Müller, we wish to actively contribute to developing new and sustainable mobility concepts to meet urban needs in which the E-Bike plays a central role and the car is largely superfluous.

Companies can also help to drive forward new and sustainable mobility. Surveys show that employees who travel to work by bike are off work sick considerably less often than colleagues who travel using other modes of transport. There are also a number of programmes for companies to relatively easily assist employees in opting for an E-Bike. We established a scheme like this for our employees at Riese & Müller some time ago. Very quickly, we realised that many people were replacing their second car with an E-Bike. The use of E-Bikes significantly reduces congestion in towns and cities, therefore making a significant contribution to reducing CO2 pollution. Companies can use various programmes to provide employees with simple access to E-Bikes, at the same time as doing something for the health of their workforce and significantly reducing the volume of traffic. E-Bikes in particular offer employees the benefit of coping with even a longer commute stress-free and in comfort. So it’s therefore not just down to politicians to change things, although politicians do need to put in place good framework conditions and provide incentives that will lead to a shift in society’s thinking. The aforementioned creation of a better and safe transport infrastructure for cyclists is crucial in this.