II. Cities are compact and managed to maximise access to socio-economic opportunities, health, and equity for all.

The way we design and manage cities determines their capacity for social and economic prosperity: compact cities, with mixed land use and short distances to jobs and amenities reduce the need for motorised  trips, nourish social cohesion and community living. They make better and more efficient use of space and spending on infrastructure. They reduce road crashes and air pollution, and time and productivity lost in travel and congestion. 

Transport and cities planning and management must be shaped to support each other to provide access, protect health and increase equity of a growing urban population.

Facts and figures

Density of people-centred: Cities with higher densities increase the probability of public transport, walking and cycling trips thanks to shorter trips and higher passenger catchment areas for public transport. In the UK context, a doubling of city-regional population density could reduce emissions by 5%, further optimisation with employment density and other access improvements could maximise the emission reductions. (Read more: LSE Cities)

Access in cities of Global South: Half of all urban dwellers in Global South lack adequate access to opportunities, leading to either high travel burdens or exclusion from opportunities. For example, 42% of residents in Johannesburg and 56% in Mexico City have below-average access to jobs. (Read more: WRI)

Air pollution levels in poor areas: Over 80% of urban dwellers are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. It is an issue in all regions of the world, but inhabitants of low-income cities are the most impacted. 98% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. (Read more: WHO)

Access to jobs and cost burden: In South Africa 75% of households with an income of up to ZAR 3,000 (USD 200) per month spend 20% or more of their income on transport to commute to work. (Read more: UNU-WIDER)

Transport emissions in urban areas vs. rural areas: Urban dwellers record 70% less vehicle-kilometre travel and transport CO2 emissions than people living in rural areas. The level of automobile dependency is also overall lower in cities. (Read more: VTPI)

Catalytic measures

  • Set mode share targets for biking and walking, public transport, and rail
  • Integrate land-use with transport demand management to avoid need for travel (commercial activities and public services in all residential areas, compact, dense, walkable places, 15-minute cities)
  • Cluster amenities around transport hubs
  • Implement car-reduced residential areas
  • Finance transport investments based on their contribution to low-carbon and sustainable mobility
  • Invest in affordable and decarbonised public transport and level of service
  • Enhance security and service of public transport for women
  • Allocate more safe space to walking and biking
  • Allocate dedicated space to public transport
  • Prioritize and promote active modes, micromobility and public transport (e.g. dedicated lanes, improved availability of services and facilities, awareness and marketing of active modes, micromobility and public transport)
  • Introduce 30 km/h speed limits in urban areas
  • Manage and price parking (e.g. on street charges, workplace levies, parking maximums, pavement parking bans)
  • Regulate urban access to city centres (e.g. zero emission zones in city centers, access based on emissions)
  • Incentivize vehicle and ride sharing
  • Transition paratransit operators into formalized organizations
  • Regulate paratransit as a profession and economic activity
  • Combine paratransit professionalization and fleet renewal for electrification
  • Integration of paratransit with public transport systems for feeder and last mile services
  • Promote digital application to enhance paratransit efficiency
  • Adopt and enforce air quality regulations
  • Define trajectories to phase out ICE vehicles sales, production, and use
  • Price CO2 and integrate the transport sector to emission trading schemes
  • Phase out fossil fuel subsidies (e.g. diesel privileges)
  • Tighten fuel economy standards for individual vehicles, not fleet average
  • Set Vision Zero/Safe System Approach targets for road safety
  • Provide on-demand services, where needed, in urban, suburban, and rural areas
  • Mandate eco-driving training programs for commercial drivers
  • Develop shared urban logistics platforms
  • Apply mandates for urban cargo-bike delivery
  • Enable and mandate off-peak-hour delivery
  • Introduce workplace green travel plans (including but not limited to parking charges, car sharing, incentives for public transport use, teleworking, low carbon travel policies such as rail over aviation, etc.)
  • Engage major traffic generators (e.g. major employers, stadiums, business parks) in sustainable mobility schemes (flexible mobility services, parking cash out, parking levy)
  • Regulate export and import of second-hand ICE and EV vehicles through emission, safety, and recycling standards
  • Legal mandates for new Zero Emission Vehicles
  • Tax vehicles based on emissions, weight, footprint, and energy efficiency
  • Identify critical services and develop disaster management plans