City Mobility at The Global Parliament of Mayors Annual Summit

Bristol has been the focus for city leaders around the globe as mayors from across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and the USA came together over the last three days to debate and agree actions on some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The Global Parliament of Mayors Bristol

The Global Parliament of Mayors Annual Summit has focused on three main topics: migration, urban security and population health. Fringe events have covered wider topics such as housing, transport, clean energy and innovation with technology.  The summit aims to find new and innovative ways to establish strong collaboration and unification between Mayors, working together with other city networks and strategic partners to enable the voice of city leaders to be heard both at a national and international level.

City Solutions


Arcadis is proud to be supporting the conference as an industry partner, co-hosting a city solutions roundtable with international law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. This practical discussion between Mayors and business leaders focused on the housing and transport sector, with key questions including: 

  • How can city leaders stimulate business, in particular SME’s, to innovate with the aim of improving whole life service and cost and close funding gaps?
  • How should city leadership and business collaborate and innovate to rapidly deliver housing, transport, and connected infrastructure? Mayors should take into consideration changes from technology, innovation and national and international migration.
  • How can city leaders best drive and benefit from uplift in land values for their citizens?

Transforming Urban Mobility 


No two cities are identical. Each have their own historical, cultural, behavioural, topographical differences; but, neither is every global city entirely unique and distinct from one another. As a result, there is great value in collaboration and sharing lessons learned between cities in a forum such as this.

Radical and fast paced innovations in the transport fleet, coupled with digitally enabled new transit services and business models, present a huge opportunity to radically transform urban mobility. The emerging revolution of electric, connected, shared and automated vehicles opens a new frontier of disruption in transportation and urban living. 

Cities across the world are grappling with congestion, overcrowded transport, poor air quality and the need to drive greater prosperity, competitiveness and improve the citizen experience. Connected and Automated vehicles (CAV) have a role in driving improvement in all these areas. However, they could also make some problems worse, such as congestion, or jeopardize the financial viability of vital public transport services, affecting citizens’ ability to travel or access employment and other critical services, creating a transport system with unequal access. 

The power of big-tech and automotive firms means that the march of CAV is an inevitability. What is not inevitable is the way that cities respond. It is vital that cities are proactive in preparing for CAV disruption. From engaging local people, to forming regulatory policy, testing and licensing, cities have a lead part to play. And of course, we can see that this is engagement is already happening and we want to encourage and enable more of it. 

Citizens in Motion

 
This thinking is what underpins our latest piece of strategic research – Citizens in Motion. This presents an analysis of 14 global cities and provides recommendations on what each needs to do to influence and enable the introduction of CAV in a way that is well aligned with their vision for their cities.  We focus on three pillars: citizen engagement, governance platforms and enabling infrastructure
Using the UK as an example, we can see Central Government’s commitment to CAV and electrifying the fleet, with supportive regulation including: 

  • The Road to Zero Policy document
  • The Code of Practice for CAV testing
  • The Automated & Electric Vehicles Act of Parliament, which places a duty on the Secretary of State to consider making regulations on the request of elected mayors for the installation of electric vehicle charge points
  • Substantial grant funding available to contribute to the creation of new UK products and services. 

These are all essential instruments to drive UK societal benefit, to strengthen UK Plc and of course extremely welcome to drive confidence in the face of Brexit uncertainty. 

Learning and Engagement


One of the real benefits deriving from the Summit this week is in enabling host cities to learn by doing. It allows cities to engage with the technology companies who want to develop and test a new product or service, and to engage with their citizens to get a better understanding of their needs and preferences and the likely behavioural responses. 

This places the cities that do engage at the centre of the action, ensuring that their policy aims and citizens’ needs are carefully considered and not overpowered by market forces. And they do so without having to fully fund development themselves. There are great examples of this in the CAV Living Labs, which have been established across the UK, largely funded by central Government and industry. Examples include the Smart Mobility Living Lab in London and the West Midlands Future Mobility Lab in Coventry and Birmingham. 

As we heard during the debate and feedback from Mayors from the UK, Uganda, Ghana and USA, no two cities are identical, but, through open dialogue and positive collaboration, it was evident that there is great potential for collective learning and better outcomes for their cities and citizens. Embracing and shaping the positive opportunities offered by new transport technologies can ultimately help to improve the quality of life for all.

Richard Bonner

City Executive for Bristol Ask me a question