Putting People at the Heart of Urban Mobility

Active ways of getting from A to B like walking and cycling are low-cost, healthy, and sustainable. But towns and cities are not always designed to promote active travel. To find people-first solutions to the way we move around cities, Bax & Company is supporting eight cities to pilot new solutions as part of the Active Cities initiative. Communications lead for Active Cities Jamie Coles recently sat down with Melissa and Chris Bruntlett, thought leaders on active mobility, to learn about the potential for cities that prioritise walking and cycling.

Making cycling more convenient than car travel

In the latest episode of the Active Cities podcast, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett shared a compelling vision for urban mobility, “The entire road network has been designed to make it seamless and comfortable to get from Point A to Point B. But if you take that same logic and then design a cycling network using neighbourhood streets, traffic calming, and other methods that don’t necessarily require the massive capital investment of building out cycling infrastructure, you create a network that becomes competitive, if not better to walk or cycle from a time and convenience perspective.”

This perspective lays the foundation for reimagining urban spaces, where active mobility is not just an alternative but a preferred mode of transportation, encouraging a healthier, greener way of getting around.

Active Cities aims to reverse car-centric planning trends 

The Active Cities project embodies this vision, bringing together municipalities, knowledge partners, and citizens across the North Sea region to prioritise walking and cycling. By leveraging tactical urbanism, multimodal mobility hubs, and co-creation schemes, the initiative aims to transform urban environments into more livable, human-scale spaces. Co-funded by the European Commission Interreg North Sea programme, the goal is to encourage active mobility and reduce the negative impacts of car-centric urban planning, making cities more accessible, healthier, and sustainable.

Active Mobility Meets Lille

Last week, Active Cities met in Lille, as the project picks up speed, moving into its second year. But it wasn’t just the representatives of the partner organisations that played an active role, central to the discussions was the Maison des Mobilités Durables (Sustainable Mobility House), a heart of sustainable mobility in Lille. Opened in September 2023, this centre is proof of Lille’s commitment to facilitating a transition towards more sustainable, health-conscious urban mobility. Bax & Company consultant Juliette Tenart highlighted the urgency of this mobility transition, emphasising its significance for both climate action and public health.

Tina Vestermann Olsen, Assistant Professor at Aalborg University, a partner organisation in Active Cities said “This was a great opportunity for us to not only engage with the project partners but also to experience one of the sites we are working with, the Mobility House in Lille ‘Maison des Mobilités Durables’, by conducting fieldwork and on-site registrations.”

You can listen to Tina discuss Tactical Urbanism in Aarhus on the Active Cities podcast.

Towards a sustainable urban future

The insights shared by the Bruntletts, combined with the collaborative efforts of the Active Cities project, illustrated by the meeting in Lille, underscore a critical shift in urban mobility planning. By rethinking how we design our cities and mobility networks, we can create environments that not only support the well-being of our planet but also enhance the quality of life for its inhabitants. The Active Cities project, with its innovative approach and community-focused initiatives, exemplifies the potential for urban areas to lead the way in this transition. As we move forward, the lessons learned and the successes achieved through such collaborations will be instrumental in shaping the sustainable, active cities of the future.

Listen to the Active Cities podcast

Learn more about the work of the Active Cities team

Our Active Cities team helps cities put active mobility at the heart of urban planning. If you want to learn more about opportunities for your city, reach out to a member of our team.

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