What role will vehicles play in the urban scenario of the future?
What we city planners understand by the car of the future is no longer necessarily comparable to our private car of today: Instead of driving home in my own car, I order a vehicle in the city of tomorrow conveniently via an app. This will massively change the way we use mobility - and in all likelihood how we think about mobility.
In what way?
Currently, 95 to 98 percent of city dwellers arrive to public transport on foot or by bike. In the future, people will make more context-based decisions about how to make this last mile. On a sunny day, I might walk. When it rains, I order a vehicle. Streets thus become a multimobility scene in which pedestrians, cyclists and automated vehicles all occupy their space.
How can sustainability and mobility in a city be reconciled?
Of course, switching to electric mobility improves air quality in our cities - this is certainly a step in the right direction. However, most electric vehicles still occupy the same space, are individually owned, and are usually used by only one person. Only with a wide range of mobility services will we be able to move more environmentally friendly. The way we move around every day has a considerable impact on our individual carbon footprint.
There are quite a few pedestrian zones in Germany that seem deserted. Why?
In the past shopping malls had a negative impact on pedestrian zone, today online shopping is adding to this challenge.
So as to definitely make sure that no one shops at the store around the corner…
With the loss of the small traders, the inner cities have lost charm and humanity. That's why cities have to be completely rethought - by bringing back the feel-good factor: People go where other people are. For the pedestrian zones and urban centres to survive they have to look at creating good experience and invitation to stay.
What contribution should Daimler make to urban development?
You have to put mobility services on the road – in such a way that they fit perfectly into the network of the modern city. In doing so, it is important to address the needs of the future. How else can we ensure that we do not build the infrastructure of past mobility? For example, massive investments are currently being made in the development of underground parking structures, which we may no longer need in ten years' time. There is obviously a need for discussion here. You can advise cities on developing the infrastructure of the future.
What must be avoided in the matter of infrastructure?
Road traffic was divided in the 60s. This means that pedestrians, cyclists and cars take part in traffic life side by side instead of together. The objective of this separation was to avoid conflicts. From my point of view, adhering to this would be disastrous for modern cities. Especially when it comes to automated driving, it is important to find solutions in which vehicles are a well-integrated part of a well thought-out street design. Our streets are the largest public space we have in a city - they have to be designed in a way that works for people.