Pedal to the metal: World Bicycle Day 2020

With mobility from a gender perspective and climate action in mind, and on the occasion of World Bicycle Day on June 3, Metropolis – the global network of major cities and metropolitan areas – is organising an online meeting with mobility experts to address mobility management and planning at the metropolitan level.

Cyclists in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

In the current pandemic it seems that mobility is synonymous with contagion, especially in densely crowded urban spaces. Walking or cycling re-emerge as the healthiest, most sustainable andequitable mobility options that, in addition, favor the so-called “social distancing”. Now, in the vast metropolitan areas around the world, with movements between neighborhoods and to peripheral municipalities, the reality is that the networks of public transport, cycling and pedestrian systems reveal shortages in comparison to daily educational, work and mobility of care requirements, according to the latest report from the World Association of the Major Metropolises (Metropolis): “Rights and claims for metropolitan mobility”.

From Dakar or Lisboa, passing Berlin or Delhi, to São Paulo or Montreal, we find diverse metropolitan transport systems that have been designed principally to cover work mobility, without considering that direct trips for work reasons do not represent the movements of the majority of the people.

To give just one example, the so-called mobility of care – which covers travel related to household management and maintenance such as errands and daily shopping, as well as all travel undertaken to care for dependent persons – represents the highest percentage of trips and is mostly done by women. On average, mobility of care represents nearly 40% of trips in large metropolises, compared to 20% work-related mobility (the rest is distributed between travel for study, leisure and personal affairs), according to the aforementioned report. Moreover, 29-to-49-year-old women are the population group with the highest mobility rate, for reasons related to caring for children and dependents. Walking or cycling can therefore only address internal accessibility to the municipality or neighbourhood. However, access from the peripheries to the vital activities located in metropolitan centres would very likely require mechanised transportation.

What is more, the situation is compounded in the context of a pandemic like COVID-19, since most of the essential work in cities – in hospitals, care homes, cleaning and food services – is done by women. Public transport has also been restricted due to the pandemic, impacting the subsistence of women informal workers who live on the outskirts of cities and for whom accessible and safe public transit is their livelihood.

“At the level of the metropolitan area and its far-flung municipalities, therefore, it is crucial to rely on public transport networks with affordable, accessible and nonpolluting mechanised mobility services”, asserts Floridea Di Ciommoa, an economist and urban analyst with expertise in equity and transport, inclusive technology and sustainable logistics. And, we emphasize the sustainable aspect since, statistics show that at the global level, transport is responsible for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions.

With mobility from a gender perspective and climate action in mind, and on the occasion of World Bicycle Day on June 3, Metropolis, with the support of the International Organisation for Public Transport (UITP) and the City Council of Barcelona, is organising an online meeting with mobility experts to address mobility management and planning at the metropolitan level, advocating for sustainable, affordable and inclusive mobility that leaves no one behind, especially in these times of crisis, and that contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of vital importance to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

There is an urgent need to make major cities and metropolises find new ways to manage complexity, increase efficiency, reduce expenses and improve quality of life. This is where metropolitan governance comes into play: establishing a modern, metropolitan, multilevel and intersectoral governance that responds to the plurality of visions and needs, such as a gender perspective, in the process of project design and development, constitutes the most powerful framework to conceive more sustainable, safe and inclusive metropolises that offer a better quality of life for citizens.

The webinar “Commuting across metropolises” is open to anyone and completely free. It will take place on June 3, 2020, from 11:00 to 12:00 (CET), and will be held in English.

Click here for more information and for participating.