Avoid: Addressing Inequities in Transport & Commuting
kesrawann @ stock.adobe.com
―Arthur C. Clarke in 1964.
―Arthur C. Clarke in 1964.
As we watch our lives grow ever more digital, the actual physical location of the body loses importance. We are in constant contact, thus constantly together. Paradoxically, this revolution could potentially drive us further apart, into more isolated cocoons in our own little pockets of the world.
In this scenario we explore technologies that aim to make commuting more active, avoiding motorized methods of transport, as well as avoiding the need for travel entirely.
In general, a shift towards the cohabitation and sharing of living, working, and recreational spaces will decrease the length of trips, both in distance and time spent physically going from one place to another. Providing society with closer options for all three aspects of living improves the quality of life and decreases the need to go somewhere else. Improving urban densities with better mixed-use living and public spaces can help compact neighborhoods and provide residents with a variety of options closer to home. More buildings with ground-floor commercial spaces, located next to small plazas, parklets, or squares, connected to one another with dedicated, brightly-lit paths for pedestrians and cyclists are the best means of incentivizing the general avoidance or reduction in travel.
The forthcoming consequences of the fourth Industrial Revolution will touch every aspect of society, altering the very fabric of who and what we are. As with the previous industrial revolutions, Industry 4.0 will have a transformative effect on how we interact with one another and go about our daily lives. This will move society towards a hyper-customization of goods, or even a complete digitalization of objects with the help of tools with augmented inputs, such as Multimodal Acoustic Trap Display (MATD).
In particular, Industry 4.0 is popularizing home offices and co-working spaces; XR Glasses tools could make it possible for a person to avoid commuting altogether, by simulating workplaces and offices, or even specific tourist hotspots, completely avoiding lengthy flights and jet lag. Thanks to mass urbanization, jammed road systems, inefficient public transportation, and omnipresent deadlines, commuting feels like a waste of time. In Lima, Peru, for instance, the average daily commute is 97 minutes. Many say that commuting is the least enjoyable activity of their day, making the possibility of completely eliminating commuting altogether, a very appealing temptation.
Locally produced goods could be another effective way of avoiding long-distance shipping (and the subsequent emissions) while also promoting the initiatives within the branch of the Sharing Economy. Locally grown food from urban agriculture and community gardens can provide sustenance while bringing the community closer together. In the case of 3D Printing, someone could send a weightless digital file across the world in an instant with someone else printing the result directly at the final location. This avoids the energy wasted in physically shipping the item, avoids the packaging and production costs, and avoids the energy waste associated with packaging and production.
Here, we also take into consideration that for someone to utilize urban areas, they have to feel welcome and safe in doing so. The right to the city encompasses the idea that a city must be designed with a person's own specific needs in mind. With the majority of cities having been designed by male professionals, gender bias has been deeply embedded into the city structure, making some urban areas feel unwelcome for people outside this demographic. The Pink Tax, the so-named excess amount charged for women’s goods or services compared to identical goods or services for men, is ubiquitously present in modern society and causes women to outspend men on transportation in New York City by a significant margin.
Women take more trips due to caretaker responsibilities in taking care of young children and shopping for the household. Women also spend more on alternative modes of transportation due to safety concerns on public transport, spending $26-50 extra per month. It is estimated that women likely spend up to $1,200 more per year than men on transportation. It is important to state that this discrepancy is the result of decades of decisions made by a patriarchal society that has actively ignored women’s mobility needs and place in society. Proposals such as Gender Mainstreaming are ways of mitigating the damage of our gender-biased culture. A collection of advancements are needed to ensure that women, trans people, the elderly, and citizens with reduced mobility also feel entitled to all urban areas and to the use of active, more permeable, modes of transportation.