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Designing Cities for a Car Optional Future with Mobycon’s Lennart Nout

Audio Editing by: Wangyuxuan Xu Blurb by: Alexandra Jade Garcia Scripting by: Marie Hogan

What is Mobycon?

Mobycon is a sustainable mobility consultancy based in the Netherlands with offices in Canada and the United States. For the past three decades, they’ve drawn from the Netherlands’ experience improving biking and walking access to help city planners and government agencies plan safe and sustainable mobility networks. Their guiding philosophy emphasizes the importance of understanding how people move, what routes they take, and traffic behavior. In an effort to make cities safer for bikes and pedestrians, Mobycon helps their clients commit to serious economic and policy efforts that challenge car-centered city design by providing them with various services and tools to facilitate new forms of urban mobility. For example, their interactive mobility workshops and education programs have trained a wide range of local stakeholders, city planners, engineers, and even school children. Tools such as Star Analysis, an approach to bicycle network planning, and Streetsketch, Mobycon’s free street design tool, embody Dutch design principles that can be locally adapted in municipalities around the world. Mobycon is a leading example of how partnerships between governments and the private sector can advance sustainable solutions to transportation and urban planning challenges.

The Dutch Sustainable Mobility Model

Dutch models of mobility address fundamental challenges to automobile centered urban planning and street safety. The Dutch model focuses on returning streets to public spaces for vulnerable road users like bicyclists and pedestrians, also known as the “shared space” concept. The Dutch approach emphasizes network-based planning that ensures safety for all road users and assesses existing city infrastructure in local contexts. The successful transition towards shared mobility in the Netherlands can be accredited to the vast amount of research, funding, design efforts, and political will that has gone into crafting the Dutch approach.

COP27 and Sustainable Transportation 

The transportation sector is responsible for approximately one quarter of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. While zero emission vehicles will play a role in decarbonisation, other ways of getting around, like biking, are also critical . Nout says in many countries, designing cities in a way that makes biking and walking safe and convenient will require a whole new way of thinking about city planning and traffic engineering, but training for these specialities is often expensive and inaccessible. 

Mobycon is a member of the Transportation Decarbonisation Alliance (TDA), an international coalition that seeks to accelerate the transportation sector towards a net-zero emissions mobility system. The TDA’s Call to Action on Active Mobility, which they’ve brought to this year’s COP27 discussions, hopes to change that. It asks global leaders to commit additional funding to train planners and engineers in sustainable mobility design. Nout says this support will help remove the current bottleneck in sustainable infrastructure investment – the skilled professionals to make transportation decarbonisation goals reality.

Lennart Nout

Lennart Nout is an urban mobility specialist who serves as the Manager of International Strategy at Mobycon. His work includes training and capacity building, as well as developing strategic projects and urban mobility plans in Europe and North America. With a specialized interest in bike mobility, Nout’s projects are mainly focused on design, policy, consultation, and guidelines for cycling in cities around the world.


Transcript

Lennart Nout: the streets don’t have to be this way, they could have other nice things that are actually nicer to be and nicer to look at with the added benefits of being able to move more people more safely and more sustainably.

Ethan: I’m Ethan Elkind, and this is Climate Break. Giving people more options to get around besides cars is an important part of reducing emissions from transportation. Lennart Nout is with Mobycon, a consulting firm that helps local governments plan for safer and more sustainable mobility. He says many cities lack streets that allow people to bike and walk safely. But smarter planning could fix it.

Lennart Nout: You often don’t have a choice. You’re forced into the car. Providing people with more options is actually giving people more freedom to move in the way they want, and there. Engineering solutions, treat design solutions that make things better for people driving and for people cycling at the same time. The bottleneck’s gonna be the people to do it. 

Ethan: Nout says that because training is often inaccessible, many cities don’t have enough knowledge and capacity to make smarter urban design a reality. So he’s working with the global Transport Decarbonisation Alliance on a Call to Action for more publicly funded training opportunities.

Lennart Nout: We came together to see who wants to help invest in that capacity building because we need to train a lot of people globally to make sure that we don’t. Just throw the money away,  what the culture action is now all about getting the funding in place to make sure that we can train  individuals globally. And make sure that the cost is not a prohibiting factor in getting that training anymore .

Ethan: To learn more about Mobycon and joining the call to action for better urban infrastructure in your own community, visit climatebreak.org.

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