visibility_off Future of Mobility for Families in the Urban Core

Image © Matthew Richmond

Some of you may not know this about me, but I am a father of 6 kids. Granted, we have a blended family, my wife and I-- but stepkids or not, they are all my kids. They range in age from 17 years all the way down to 8 months old. As you can imagine, we have a mountain of challenges, especially in mobility, and especially with me being a working father. With teens that are beginning to experience the world of driving for the first time, as well as fitting such a large family into one vehicle for family outings we spend together (on rare occasions because the older kids are too cool these days), the battle seems endless. It’s eye opening to work in an industry that is seeking to change that family mobility ecosystem.

By 2050, ~70% of the world’s population will live in cities, up from 54% today. Take a look at this map showing the urbanization trends.

Trends also show that parents will continue to spend more of their time with their children. As we get closer to vision and reality of 2050, families in the Urban Core will need to address mobility needs for 3 main areas -

1. Services

2. Learning

3. Recreation

Families can also solve their mobility issues in a few ways such as eliminating the need (for mobility solutions), localizing the need, or finding a more efficient way to handle the need. By combining solutions with more efficient practices, and elimination of the need, we can create a more harmonious mobility future in the Urban Core.

1. Services

When speaking of Services, I mean the tedious tasks of life, ranging from simple things like shopping all the way to shuttling children to medical appointments, but also includes work commuting for the parents.

These tasks stack up to large amounts of time, and without efficient solutions, could account for most of the mobility needs (and time!) of the Urban Core families.

More adults in the Urban Core are combating the pains of the work commute by working from home, either through entrepreneurship or working for progressive companies that allow that type of freedom. This is enabled by online technologies that create virtual conference rooms like Slack and Zoom, and more new apps are created almost daily.

Companies like Zum, which is like an “Uber for your kids”, is developing a secure way to take your kids to various events and activities independent from the parents while providing notifications once the children arrive safely. This allows children to have more freedom of opportunity, making families more time efficient.

Which brings us to our next topic...

2. Learning

This topic is primarily concerning the mobility needs of children and their commute to schooling and extracurricular activities.

While there are already services like Zum which I mentioned previously, there is also a rise in online education at home, or “hybrid schooling” which is creating more independence for children in the Urban Core, and eliminating the need for mobility solutions.

Some parents prefer to escort their children to school because they worry about dangers from traffic or predatorial adults along the way-- which is another opportunity for a mobility solution. In many places, the governing bodies are actively trying to create “Safe Corridors” where there is increased security and police in common areas where children would need to commute (walking and biking) to and from schools or bus stops. This would require these corridors to become much more walkable, which is a common problem in many cities. This also affects the final topic...

3. Recreation

A universal meaning for “recreation” in the Urban Core environment is incredibly difficult to define, as there are many activities that families enjoy doing. One way to define recreation is to look at what Urban Core families do to get breathing space , or to make their lives in the congested city more enjoyable.

The recreational needs of a family will become increasingly diverse and complex as the density of the Urban Core increases. This is because more families will look for their respite from city life, and simultaneously access to that recreation will become more difficult.

Recreational needs for families in the urban core currently revolve around having places that are family friendly-- meaning that there is an array of opportunities that are both indoor and outdoor, and they are located in places that are accessible to the families. For example, parks and playgrounds that are within walking distance. The same with community centers, fitness centers, and extracurricular activities being placed localized areas.

There is already a shortage of these recreational venues, and as the density of the urban core rises so will the need for these types of neighborhood recreational spaces. By making these services closer in proximity to families, or accessible through effective means of mobility (I.E. my yoga studio is one block away from the train depot), life in the growing mega-cities of the future can be great.

Image credit Luiz C. Ribeiro for The New York Times

BUT WAIT, what about autonomous cars?

Local Motors Olli

Image property of Local Motors

Oh, you noticed that did you.

ONLY solution. They are a part of a greater mobility field that includes more robust transportation solutions as well as better civil planning and infrastructure, and not the least of which is more responsible families making better lifestyle decisions that lessen their mobility impact as much as reasonably possible.

What mobility challenges do you see for the future of families in the Urban Core?


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