Bold Moves needed for the future of urban mobility

"Be bold, be bold and everywhere be bold." -Herbert Spencer, Philosopher

Hong Kong Transport
Those famed words from philosopher Herbert Spencer resonate with many aspects of our lives, but rarely would we consider them as we travel to our jobs, appointments or to visit with loved ones. While mobility may be at the back of our minds as our destination often takes precedence, it is at the forefront of our reality: the quality of our journey helps to define our experience. I can see the changes in our world everyday - rapid urbanization, aging infrastructure, population growth and climate change continue to challenge our world’s cities, and those that choose to make bold moves in advancing and diversifying their urban transport systems are the ones that will remain competitive in the future. 

Having traveled all over the world, meeting with clients and their communities, I’ve been impressed by the variety of urban transportation systems that define a city and give it a unique, iconic feel. From London’s Tube, the Los Angeles freeways, Hong Kong’s MTR system, Sydney’s ferries, or Amsterdam’s bicycles, it is the dominant transportation systems that provide the distinguishing feature that enables the mobility of residents, travelers, goods and services. The three top things I hear residents reference about their city regarding mobility are the cost and time (including dependability) of their commute and air quality. 

In response to what we’ve seen and heard from people in cities, we’ve created the Sustainable Cities Mobility Index, focused on urban transport systems as mobility is such a crucial part of our daily lives and is experiencing significant transformation globally. We’ve moved into a futuristic world which we may have previously seen only in science fiction – autonomous vehicles, the Hyperloop and more are now a reality. In addition, the demand for sustainable urban living is to design and retrofit our cities to move us from reliance of the gas-powered automobile to diversifying across smart transport, mass transit, cycling, and walking based lifestyles, for example. Not all cities are in the same place in their mobility journeys, as some have complex and aging systems while others are building new networks, but all can learn from each other and evaluate through the same criteria as a starting point.

This brings me to this year’s report, which ranks 100 of the world’s leading cities based on a selection of 23 evaluation criteria. The ranking is based on which cities are the most progressed in achieving sustainable mobility as they stand today. We intend this report to showcase ways in which cities have and can advance sustainable urban mobility solutions.

It is by investing in improved and sustainable mobility that our global cities – our homes and communities – will experience enhanced productivity, attractiveness and overall quality of life. Indeed, now is the time for cities to invest in their future. Budget is but one of the critical success factors. Boldness of vision, likewise, is an important value for urban decision makers to improve quality of life in their cities. A standstill is not a viable option. 

Those who make bold moves will contribute to a productive, sustainable future we all can enjoy. Being bold is something I challenge myself, along with all of you, to consider. I, for one, am excited for what the future brings.

To find out more about the research, check out

John Batten

Global Cities Director Ask me a question
Share on Wechat
"Scan QR Code" on WeChat and click ··· to share.