Promoting Active Modes to help Decarbonise Urban Transport: The MobiliseYourCity Contribution

active modes


Why active transport modes are essential to help decarbonize urban transport  

The increased use of motorized vehicles within urban settings has incurred unprecedented social, environmental, and economic challenges. Transport accounts for 21% of global carbon emissions and will continue to grow by almost 16% by 2050 under the existing trajectory. Passenger travel alone will increase 2.3-fold, reflecting that current transport policies cannot lead mobility towards a sustainable path. 

On the contrary, under ambitious scenarios, cities could cut 70% of CO2 emissions through urban mobility by 2050 in comparison to 2015. Carefully implemented measures to increase the model share of active mobility (walking and cycling) and electric mobility (e-scooters and e-bikes) are promising ways to decarbonize transport. Cities with over 55% share of walking, cycling, and public transport emit 2.4 fewer tones of CO2 emissions annually from passenger transport. A modal shift scenario by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) showed that if urban passenger bikes and e-bikes use increased from 6% in 2015 to 11% in 2030 and 14% percent in 2050, carbon emissions will decrease by 7% in 2030 and 11% in 2050 saving USD 24 trillion. This indicates that promoting active transport modes could be a solution to the low-carbon development pathway.

The potential of active transport modes in MobiliseYourCity geographies 

Walking and cycling are already at the forefront of fulfilling the transport needs of urban and rural dwellers in the Global South. Member cities like Casablanca and Dakar have high numbers of daily walking trips accounting for 60%-70%. In cities like Kochi and Nagpur, where the modal share for walking is relatively low, 12% and 10% of daily trips are still made on foot. On the other hand, Latin American countries show significant progress in promoting cycling cities such as Baixada Santista and Teresina, with model shares of 15% and 12%, and Asian cities like Mandalay show promising results with a relatively high modal share of 22%. 

High rates of active travel in MobiliseYourCity member countries reflect the need to retain and promote active transport as a mode and reap cross-cutting benefits. Investments towards active mobility could provide safe walking and cycling infrastructure, improve accessibility for low-income groups, and connect them with resources leading to an equitable and just society. For instance, the availability of paved roads in Morocco increased school attendance rates for boys and girls. It could address issues of degrading air quality in cities; for instance, Kigali, Rwanda, introduced a car-free day. As a result, particulate matter concentrations were reduced to approximately 50% every Sunday instead of on weekdays. Moreover, it could boost the local businesses and prevent economic losses due to traffic congestion since cyclists and pedestrians only occupy one-third and one-sixth of road space compared to private vehicles

Our contribution to the promotion of active modes of transport 

To harness the full potential of active modes of transport in the Global South and help decarbonize urban transport, MobiliseYourCity has prioritized active modes as a critical topic in 2022 and aims to overcome significant implementation gaps.  

Mobilising Investments: In 2021, our seven completed or nearly completed projects identified an investment need of 379 million euros to improve walking or cycling infrastructure. Approximately 25 million euros (i.e., 7% of the total) have already been mobilized by our constant efforts.  

Methodological Support: Together with our partners, we develop tailored tools and methodologies on our priority themes and continue to grow our Knowledge Platform. Our latest publications focussing on active, and e-mobility include: 

Capacity Building: We have already delivered two training and have an upcoming session on active transport modes as part of our Master Mobility training series in collaboration with the Institute of Transport and Development Policy (ITDP) on the following topics:  

Our newly published Global Monitor 2022 gives a complete picture of MobiliseYourCity contribution in this regard. Access publication here.