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Traffic-concepts of tomorrow

  • The rural exodus
    The rural exodus
  • Challenges for the traffic system
    Challenges for the traffic system
  • Smoothly moving traffic
    Smoothly moving traffic
  • European trends
    European trends
  • Bosch pilot project in Singapore
    Bosch pilot project in Singapore

Mobile in the megacity

Increasing numbers of people are living in megacities. This creates special challenges for the traffic systems of the future.

The year 2008 marked a historical turning point: for the first time, there were more people in the world living in cities than in rural areas. And this rural exodus shows no sign of letting up. “Growth is particularly dramatic in India, China, southeast Asia, and Africa”, says Professor Dirk Zumkeller, the former head of the Institute of Traffic Studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. In 1975 there were only three megacities worldwide with populations of over ten million, by 2005 there were 20 such cities. And experts anticipate that this number will increase to 27 by 2025.

Cities such as London and New York are considered to be fully “mature” megacities. The population shows barely any growth and the traffic infrastructure is highly developed. The situation is very different in emergent megacities such as Lagos in Nigeria or the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. There they are just starting the development process, and there is plenty of work for them to do. “Today at least 600 million people around the world live in settlements on the outskirts of megacities”, says the traffic researcher Professor Zumkeller. Many people have now fulfilled the dream of owning their own car. This is a major challenge for the traffic systems in megacities.

For Zumkeller, the principal factor for determining how smoothly traffic is moving in a megacity is the average speed its residents travel at. “In Germany it is around 27 kilometers per hour. In megacities it’s significantly lower. In some megacities it is only as fast as walking pace.” Over time, however, technological progress has allowed traffic in all megacities to flow more smoothly. “In the 1950s, Paris had a disastrous traffic system. Today, it’s almost perfect.”

Mobility is constantly changing, even in fully developed megacities. Professor Zumkeller describes the trends in Europe: young people there are relying less and less on their own car. Instead, it’s normal for them to use several means of transport in parallel: a bicycle, a private car, buses, rail, and even rental cars.

Electromobility can also help to reduce the typical traffic-related problems a metropolis faces, such as smog and noise pollution. Bosch has launched a pilot project in Singapore. Its aim is to establish an open software platform for recharging electric vehicles, finding and pre-booking charge spots, and paying for the energy used. The first Bosch charge spots have been in place around the city since the end of June. In the first phase of the project there will be 63 of them.