Crossing pathways: Personal urban mobility analysis

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2019)


This paper provides a new tool for studying the directions and dynamics of sustainability transitions by suggesting a novel Personal Urban Mobility Analysis (PUMA).

An era with the dominance of the private car can soon come to an end, and personal urban mobility is undergoing changes in regards to new polices, practices and technologies. Policies for Oslo, the capital of Norway, state that all growth in personal transportation must consist of walking, bicycling or public transportation. An additional policy state that within 2025 all new cars sold should be electrical vehicles (EV). At the same time, smartphones and ICT technologies interrupts different sectors across the world, and personal mobility is changing because of these new technologies. A growing number of research on sustainable mobility studies diffusions of new mobility concepts. However, there are yet no study on how the emergence of EVs, electrical bicycles (EB) and smartphone technologies affects the use of car sharing, and how this changes the urban mobility scene.

This paper addresses the research question: How is new use of energy and communication technology changing personal urban mobility? The purpose of this study is to show how the use of new mobility alternatives emerge, and how this affects the stability of existing practices. This paper focuses on the diffusion of the use of car sharing and uses concepts from the transition pathways literature and social practice theory. It is an empirical study of the regime of personal urban mobility. The study is a comparative analysis and uses methods of qualitative data from household interviews from Oslo in Norway, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Lund in Sweden and Oxford in England.

The results show how the transition pathway of the personal urban mobility regime consist of regime interactions with energy and ICT. The mobility practices are interlinked with other practices such as using smart phones. The diffusion of new use of energy technologies and communication skills, contributes to changes the mobility practices. Further, new mobility practices changes the demand and requirement for the use of communication technologies for personal urban mobility.

The contribution of this study is two folded. For literature of transition pathways, the paper has a novel contribution of showing how the transition pathway of one regime consist of multiple regime interactions. This is shown by revealing how the dynamics of the implementation of EVs and EBs, and emerging use of smartphones are affecting personal urban mobility. The results also gives a contribution for the literature by studying the role of users in transitions, by showing the role of changing practices for transition pathways. For empirical relevance, the study shows how public policies and new technologies are affecting the urban mobility scene. This is relevant for smart cities issues and Mobility-as-a-service (MAAS) notions.

In Oslo, EV are gaining momentum and the city is a world leader in the growth of EV in the share of new cars sold. However, in other cities, the use of EV is still limited, but the use of bicycles are growing. The study provides a new tool for a personal urban mobility analysis (PUMA), and suggest applying them for other cities for more studies of where transitions are headed.

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