How does the car contribute to the world’s top 50 sustainable cities?

In this so-called ‘Age of the City’, Arcadis has collaborated with the Centre for Economics and Business Research to publish the first ever Sustainable Cities Index, a report that ranks 50 of the world’s leading cities in three terms: economic, social and environmental.

Sustainable transport lies at the heart of each of these measures, contributing greatly to sustainable cities by helping people to navigate quickly and affordably, without causing problems now or in the future.

Good transport ensures a high standard of living, brings economic wealth and helps to reduce carbon emissions.


But exactly how important is transport in the overall assessment of sustainable cities?  Interestingly, the report shows that European cities dominate the top 10 positions, and remarkably the transportation infrastructure is considered good in every case with the average commute time being 10% lower than the 50 cities overall.

Cities have always developed alongside good transport routes – historically near rivers and seaports. In developed countries people prefer travelling by car. The car offers personal freedom and flexibility, but some argue that this is at the cost of sustainability, as cars contribute to both air pollution and congestion.

Perhaps surprisingly no US cities feature in the top 10.  Why? The report highlights the higher user of private cars as one of main reasons.

Despite the obvious drawbacks,

Cars remain at the heart of our urban transport infrastructure.


The automotive industry should applaud itself on how it is now embracing many measures that will ensure that cars make a positive contribution to the sustainability agenda.

Transport networks – with a greater understanding of how cars fit into the overall transport system, planners understand how cars can be used to connect with other forms of transport to shorten commute times. Schemes such as car shares, park and ride and cycle schemes all make a positive contribution.

Innovation and technology - electric vehicles are already reducing environmental impact. In the future, autonomous driverless vehicles will help to avoid traffic collisions completely. They will reduce congestion as traffic flow will be both smoother and there is less need for safety gaps.

Connectivity – thanks to greater connectivity, drivers can use their cars in a more intelligent way. Technology is harnessed to predict traffic flow, create real time traffic alerts on congestion or roadworks and telematics can be used to alert speed and assess breakdown risk. Even cars themselves are more intelligent – onboard sensors helping to avoid collisions.

The use of the car as part of an overall transport network, innovations in car design and the greater use of technology within cars all contribute to a more sustainable approach to improving automotive mobility within our cites. The key to success will be the culture shift that is needed by driver, accepting new ways of using their vehicles.

Visit: PWC website

Paul Fielden

Global and European Automotive Sector Leader Delivering Mobililty Solutions +44 7764 146 068 Ask me a question