18.–21.05.2022 #polismobility

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A conversation. Two well-known thought leaders. Four guests. Exciting perspectives!

polisMOBILITY thinktank - the exclusive mobility talk at eye level.

Far beyond the conference taking place in May, the polisMOBILITY thinktanks create an exchange platform for broad fields of discussion: from the transport vision to the mobility revolution, or why the mobility of the future moves between beauty and social participation.

polisMOBILITY is the exchange platform for all those who are rethinking urban mobility of tomorrow. Open. Close. At eye level.

With our polisMOBILITY thinktank, we gave eight applicants the chance to discuss the future of urban mobility with two experts known throughout Germany!

Group photo polisMOBILITY thinktank

Group photo polisMOBILITY thinktank

At a total of two exclusive Mobility Talks in the run-up to the polisMOBILITY conference and exhibition, two renowned transport experts each met four guests who did not know each other - but who, just like our two hosts, are passionate about the topic of urban transport transformation. Together they openly discussed urban mobility for a liveable future at the end of March.

At the first thinktank, Katja Diehl, an actor for mobility change, and Frank M. Rinderknecht, Swiss automotive visionary, moderated a roundtable discussion on the topic of "mobility revolution".

Katja Diehl

Frank M. Rinderknecht

Afterwards, Dr Insa Thiele-Eich, meteorologist and budding astronaut, and futurologist Alexander Mankowsky met for a round of talks on the topic of "breaking new ground".

Dr Insa Thiele-Eich

Alexander Mankowsky

Both times, a well-founded discussion took place that focused on numerous aspects of the complex topic of mobility - and clearly underlined the ambitious approach to which we at polisMOBILITY have committed ourselves as a platform for sustainable mobility: To shed light on the numerous aspects of mobility in depth, across all sectors and far beyond a mere product show, and to answer questions about the transformation of public transport space in a solution-oriented and competent manner.

Of course, this is a demanding task, but we think that for a rethought mobility of tomorrow, the most diverse parties have to be brought together at one table - and this is exactly the framework we provide as polisMOBILITY - among others also at the thinktanks.

Astronaut aspirants and futurologists meet bicycle activists, local politicians and "Fridays for Future" activists. Just as experts for personal mobility meet cargo bike sharing innovators and information designers. What unites them? The exchange on the polisMOBILITY platform, which is intended to enable people to look beyond their own mobility bubble.

Discussion participant polisMOBILITY thinktank

Discussion participant polisMOBILITY thinktank

But how is the great mobility revolution emerging and who is orchestrating it?

Again and again, the discussion of the "mobility revolution" revolved around the question of whether the mobility turnaround can arise from local initiatives and networks - or whether it is dependent on incentives and control systems that political decision-makers prescribe. The experiences of the experts were ambivalent: decision-making and approval structures were predominantly described as too slow and sluggish. However, almost every participant was able to point to initiatives that had only come about due to the personal commitment of stakeholders in administrations or municipal enterprises and had proven to be successful.

Katja Diehl

Katja Diehl

Katja Diehl: "It is important to highlight positive examples and to encourage those involved - often in the face of insistence from within - from the outside. polisMOBILITY can also make an important contribution to this and give 'best practices' a stage."

The question of who is actually responsible for orchestrating a holistic mobility offer across the entire modal mix also seems to be far from clear, according to the participants. The potential spectrum ranges from municipal companies to vehicle manufacturers who see themselves as mobility providers - all the way to the large internet companies. Simple and low-barrier solutions are often opposed by the silo thinking of the participants and the unwillingness to create open interfaces for data access. Enough discussion material, therefore, to be further explored at polisMOBILITY.

Frank M. Rinderknecht

Frank M. Rinderknecht

Frank M. Rinderknecht pointed out that in order to regain more space for people and nature in urban areas, a more efficient utilisation of vehicles could play a leading role in the course of automation, so that we once again find more vehicles and fewer stationary vehicles in cities. The Swiss automotive visionary also relies on entrepreneurial initiatives as well as the courage of individual stakeholders: "If there are 50 participants in a commission, my experience is that nothing comes out of it. Change is more likely to come from individual game-changers like Anne Hidalgo." With a multitude of initially unpopular decisions, the mayor of Paris has brought about a transport turnaround in the French capital that has since become a role model in Europe.

All participants agreed that the attractiveness of alternative transport solutions and systems must be massively increased in order to achieve the desired acceptance among the general public. So there is still a lot to do and to discuss.

Alexander Mankowsky

Alexander Mankowsky

The exciting aspects that a top-class discussion about the future of mobility can uncover were shown right at the beginning of the second thinktank, the basic idea of which is also to be formative for the trade fair in May. Futurologist Alexander Mankowsky argued that the much-vaunted efficiency alone is not the decisive criterion for the success of alternative forms of mobility. He put forward values such as beauty and aesthetics and referred to the Tokyo underground, whose employees ensured efficiency when they pressed passengers into the already overcrowded carriages - but this had little to do with a beautiful experience. And many an alternative means of transport had failed because one simply "looked stupid" when using it.

A thought that surprised and thus provided a good example of how important unexpected impulses are for creative discussions. For the tension between beauty, efficiency, safety and practicability was a common thread running through the entire discussion.

There are already many "best practices" for mobility lotteries. But are we learning enough from them?

At polisMOBILITY, many "best practices" for mobility solutions will be on display. Everyone agreed that too little is learned from "best practices" that already work. For example, Switzerland or Paris could be used as examples of how rail transport or intermodal ride-sharing platforms could work. In Paris alone, more than one million participants used the ride-sharing portals, which included both private cars and public transport. In fact, one rideshare entrepreneur participant confirmed that the non-visibility of "rideshare cars" was a key obstacle to further broadening this climate-friendly mobility tool.

Dr. Insa Thiele-Eich

Dr. Insa Thiele-Eich

The aspect of mobility justice also took up a lot of space in the discussion. Local politician Paul Wolfgruber pointed out that only one third of the citizens had unrestricted access to mobility - this was especially true for rural regions. There was consensus that mobility is a far more critical and burdensome issue for women. In families, women often had to cope with the majority of mobility tasks. Single mothers in particular, however, have far fewer means at their disposal for mobility. The safety of public transport systems is an additional problem that significantly limits women's mobility.

As an active local politician, Dr Insa Thiele-Eich referred to urban development initiatives that could also reduce the need for mobility. An aspect that met with lively approval. The current spatial separation of living, working, shopping or care is a decisive factor in determining the cost of mobility. A mixed use of residential and commercial space or the conversion of vacant commercial buildings into flats or care facilities could provide relief here. However, the cumbersome planning law stands in the way of many local efforts.

Dr Insa Thiele-Eich: "Especially in municipalities, the willingness to change mobility is often high, but legislation often does not allow for pragmatic or even visionary decisions. At the same time, it is important that the responsible bodies are as diverse as possible in order to avoid important decisions on infrastructure only being made from one's own perspective." The mother of four and city councillor from Königswinter would certainly welcome meeting as many participants from politics and administration as possible in the polisMOBILITY discussion forums.

A successful opening dialogue.

The common result of the participants was that the idea of understanding trade fairs not primarily as an exhibition format but as a platform to bring people from different fields into conversation with each other has great potential. Conclusion of the participants: As "polisMOBILITY on a small scale", the thinktank allows an exciting outlook on the upcoming event in May and everything else that can be created within the framework of the platform.

What is your personal viewpoint and what does the rest of the mobility community have to say about it?

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