Urban mobility at Mobilise
The uncontrolled growth of urban traffic for the past decades has caused numerous problems affecting the quality of life in cities. These problems include environmental pollution, safety, and social exclusion. Therefore, a new discourse of transport planning emerged focusing on the management of travel demand and the promotion of a modal shift from car transport to sustainable modes such as public transport, cycling and walking. Sustainable urban mobility policy ensures that people can access essential services in an affordable, inclusive, environmentally friendly and safe way. To accelerate the sustainable transition of cities we focus on developing methods and tools
to support the inclusion of stakeholders and especially citizens in transport planning through participatory planning and impact assessment tools.;
to prepare for future uncertainties in transport through participatory foresight;
to measure and incentivize behavioural change in mobility through travel behaviour analysis and the impact assessment of mobility management policies and measures;
to promote new ways of transport operations and management through research into route optimisation for demand responsive transit;
to support the design of an equitable, accessible and inclusive transport system through the development of policy support and evaluation tools.
NEW WAYS OF PARTICIPATORY TRANSPORT PLANNING AND IMPACT ASSESSMENT
We think that future mobility policies should be developed together with stakeholders and citizens. Our research in this area focuses on co-creation, citizen science, participatory evaluation and impact assessment. Our tools and analyses help decision makers to understand the impact of different mobility measures through the evaluation of the impact on sustainability and the stakeholders involved. We aim to highlight the societal impact of new technologies and business models (such as shared mobility, mobility as a service, ridesharing) and provide recommendations on creating an inclusive and user-centric mobility system.
The Multi-Actor Multi-Criteria Analysis (MAMCA) allows us to consider the preferences of different stakeholders simultaneously and highlights possible synergies and conflicts across a broad range of actors.
|In the Learning Loops in the Public Realm (Looper) project (2017-2020) we developed a methodology and toolkit for co-creation for interventions in the public realm. We have demonstrated the co-creation methodology and tools in living labs to co-design solutions for safer, greener and more inclusive neighbourhoods in Brussels, Manchester and Verona.
|In the Flanders Enacted Mobile Citizen Observatories (Flamenco) project (2016-2019) we investigated how citizens can be empowered to collect and analyse data from their surroundings by setting up and testing a citizen observatory for mobility. Such a citizen observatory is an online platform that enables the bottom-up initiation and implementation of smartphone-based data collection campaigns.
|The New Integrated Smart Transport Options (NISTO) (2013-2016) project developed and tested an evaluation framework and toolkit for small-scale mobility projects. This framework was used to assess stakeholder preferences through the multi-actor multi-criteria analysis as well as the sustainability of the projects through multi-criteria analysis.
|The MOBRU project (2015-2019) studied evaluation and decision making in politically complex transport projects, using inter-regional transport projects between Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia as a test case. It resulted in two novel appraisal approaches, which can be applied separately or combined: 1) Competence-based Multi Criteria Analysis (COMCA); which takes into the account the role of stakeholders for assessing the feasibility of projects, and 2) Stakeholder-based Impact Scoring (SIS), an algorithm for quantifying and comparing negative and positive impacts of projects for different stakeholders, which lends itself for tackling ill-structured decision-making problems.
Co-creating a schoolstreet zone in Anderlecht
|In this project, we developed and applied a methodology for the re-design of a school neighbourhood that takes into account the needs and priorities of all affected stakeholders, namely the pupils, parents, teachers, and residents. The research took place in the municipality of Anderlecht in the Brussels Capital Region. Nearly 1300 pupils of four schools were surveyed about their current and desired mobility. Workshops were also organized with pupils to design solutions to the problems they encounter. The results showed that there is a strong potential for modal shift since only 5% of children currently bike to school, but 36% wish to do so. Furthermore, many of the surveyed parents and teachers as well as about half the surveyed residents consider traffic safety to be a problem in the neighbourhood. Based on the input from all stakeholder groups, recommendations were made for the re-design of the neighbourhood. This re-design included changes in traffic flows as well as a bike path traversing the whole neighbourhood, connecting the four schools.
Evaluation of the 'Brussels on Vacation' initiative
|During the summer of 2020, the streets of Brussels were taken over by activities funded under the ‘Brussels on Vacation’ initiative of the Brussels Capital Region. All activities took place in the public space and ranged from cycling tours to an urban beach to cultural performances. The initiative had two aims: to make the summer of the inhabitants of Brussels as enjoyable as possible and to promote the new regional mobility plan called Good Move. The initiative was evaluated through semi-structured interviews with the organisers of the activities. While activities organised under the ‘Brussels on Vacation’ initiative managed to entertain residents, the link with the regional mobility plan was often missing.
Strong Sustainability Appraisal for Transport (STUNT)
|Current standard decision-making models for transport are based on a so-called ‘weak’ concept of sustainability, in which any negative impact can be offset by any positive impact, so as to recommend ‘optimal’ solutions. In reality, practitioners often do not follow these recommendations, and theoreticians increasingly criticise the fundaments of weak sustainability. In STUNT we therefore explore alternative theoretical concepts of sustainability, but we also systematically analyse past transport projects to identify the factors that are decisive in real-world planning. We use these insights to build and test a new framework for strong sustainability appraisal. STUNT is a collaboration between VUB-MOBILISE and VUB-COSMOPOLIS and is sponsored by FWO.
PARTICIPATORY FORESIGHT FOR URBAN MOBILITY
The future of transport is highly uncertain, especially in urban areas because of the quick emergence of disruptive technologies the ongoing transformation of the society, industry, economic and political systems as well as the ever more pressing need to counter climate change. Our foresight activities address these uncertainties by developing new participatory ways of scenario planning and visioning.
We help decision makers to prepare for whatever uncertainties the future may bring by co-creating scenarios. Participatory scenario building can help to take into account the diverse views of the stakeholders and help to create a desirable future that appeals to most of them.
|The sustainable Policy Response to Urban Mobility Transition (Sprout) Horizon 2020 project Horizon 2020 project aims to generate new, city-led, and innovative policy responses to the challenges presented by the emergence of digitally enabled business models, new mobility patterns, and corresponding travel behaviour. In order to do this, SPROUT collaborates with 5 pilot cities (Tel Aviv, Valencia, Kalisz, Budapest and Padua) that have real-life policy challenges. For these cities, we developed do-nothing scenarios for the future of urban mobility for a 2025/2030 timeline using the cross-impact balance analysis method combined with participatory workshops and creative elements (scenario images). Then we evaluated the potential impact of the policy responses planned in the pilot cities on different stakeholder groups using the Stakeholder-based Impact Scoring (SIS) method.
|In the Mobility4EU project we developed four scenarios, a vision and an action plan for transport and mobility in Europe in 2030. The methodology combined scenario building and participatory evaluation (multi-actor multi-criteria analysis) as well as a series of participatory workshops.
|Scenario building exercises often result in scenarios that do not take into account disruptions. This reduces their usefulness for policymaking. In the project Oetingen2050, inhabitants of the Belgian village of Oetingen were engaged to develop mobility scenarios for the year 2050 that explicitly take into account disruptions. Using offline and online participatory methods, inhabitants were engaged to define their preferred mobility vision, to identify processes that could disrupt this vision, and to describe how this disruption would change their preferred vision. Emphasis was put on the engagement of children and young adults, who have more creative ideas.
|The Innoviris “Resilient Mobility Strategies for Uncertain Futures in Brussels” (Remobilise) project aims to increase the resilience of mobility in Brussels. Using innovative and participatory research methods, Remobilise develops several scenarios of potential future developments in Brussels. Subsequently, the project will set to compose out-of-the-box policy measures tailored for the different outcomes. Aside from related text and visual outputs, the findings will also take shape in a unique software tool which will allow decision-makers to quickly reassess their strategies and generate effective measures applicable for a wide variety of changing circumstances.
TRAVEL BEHAVIOUR ANALYSIS
Our researchers investigate the driving forces behind mobility choices at the level of the individuals and different groups of society by analysing data on travel behaviour based on revealed and stated preference surveys and advanced statistical analysis. Additionally, we investigate how this behaviour can be influenced to promote a modal shift to sustainable modes of transport.
|The aim of the research chair (2015-2019) was to generate a broad, scientifically substantiated approach of company mobility based on cross-community and multidisciplinary academic research focusing on different geographic scales and cases, with a particular interest in the Brussels metropolitan area. We developed a stated choice experiment to assess the readiness of company car users to use alternative modes or financial incentives. We also assessed the impact of different alternatives to the current company car regime (mobility budget, electrification of the fleet, tax reform) on the different stakeholders.
|MOBILISE studied the impact of the pedestrianisation of Brussels’ central boulevards on people’s mobility and their appreciation of the city centre. Surveys were conducted among three groups: 1) residents of the larger metropolitan area, 2) people who work in the centre (online), and 3) visitors (face to face), before (2017) and after (2021) the physical makeover of the streets. Despite the initial controversy, results show an overall increase in appreciation of the pedestrianisation, particularly among those who live close and use public transport, walk or cycle.
|We carried out an observation survey of passengers on metros, trams and buses in Brussels to investigate their multitasking activities while travelling. The aim was to identify if the mode of transport, travel distance, level of crowdedness, the proportion of underground sections and demographic characteristics of passengers have an impact on the type of activities performed on board with special attention to the frequency of the use of information and communication technology (ICT) devices. The results showed that the range of multitasking activities is not significantly different on buses, trams and metros. We showed that it is travel distance, the presence of travel companion and socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender) that are more important determinants of multitasking activities and the frequency of ICT use than travel mode itself in this specific urban context
ROUTE OPTIMISATION FOR DEMAND-RESPONSIVE TRANSIT
Integration of public transport and demand-responsive mobility services
|In many Western countries, governments are implementing an innovative demand-driven mobility policy. An example is the recent Flemish decree ‘Basisbereikbaarheid’, which aims at creating an integrated mobility system in which a user’s trip may be a combination of different types of services. Timetabled public transport will be maintained on lines with high demand, whereas private providers of collective on-demand mobility services (dial-a-ride services) will be invoked to replace unprofitable public transport in rural areas, according to the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) principle. First, this research addresses the route optimisation problem faced by the dial-a-ride providers on the operational level, i.e. how to synchronise their flexible routes and schedules to the public transport services in real time, taking into account efficiency and reliability. Second, this research considers the design of the integrated mobility system itself, i.e. how to decide which type of service is most cost-effective in a certain area.
Operations of demand-responsive electric autonomous shuttles on a fixed circuit
|Innovative shared mobility services involving electric autonomous shuttles have increasingly been implemented in recent years. Due to technical and legal restrictions, these services are usually implemented on fixed circuits (e.g. city centres, hospital campuses, airports) and operate according to fixed schedules. This research studies a variant in which the shuttles’ stopping patterns and schedules are determined in a flexible manner, based on real-time user requests. The aim is to determine the shuttles’ stops, schedules and recharging scheme, such that the total user journey time and the total number of performed laps is minimised. Experiments based on a real-life system in Renmark demonstrate that such a service allows providers to reduce operational costs and improve service quality.
INCLUSIVE, EQUITABLE AND ACCESSIBLE MOBILITY
The proliferation of smartphones and digital technologies have produced a quickly expanding array of digital services in mobility and logistics. While significant achievements have been made mainly in terms of improving physical accessibility of transport, digital accessibility and inclusion have marginally been addressed. There is a risk that these new digital mobility and logistics services will not be available and accessible to all members of society.
The Inclusive Digital Mobility Solutions (INDIMO) (2020-2022) project aims to enable researchers, operators, developers and policy makers to include the user perspective and co-creation approaches into the entire development process of digital mobility solutions. We are developing a policy evaluation tool to assess the inclusivity and accessibility of new mobility services based on the insights we have collected from stakeholder interviews and workshops. In addition, we have designed and implemented the monitoring of 5 pilots of the project to assess how the INDIMO toolkit can make services and application more inclusive and accessible.
|The Smart Mobility Hubs as game changers in transport (Smarthubs) (2021-2024) project examines mobility hubs, dedicated on-street locations where citizens can choose from different shared and sustainable mobility options. The main objective is to assess if a co-designed, user-centric development can enable mobility hubs to act as a game changer towards inclusive sustainable urban mobility and accessibility. SmartHubs will examine, develop and apply research methods and tools in SmartHubs Living Labs in Brussels, Rotterdam-the Hague metropolitan region, Munich, Vienna and Istanbul. We will develop and apply novel participatory and impact assessment tools like a multi-actor multi-criteria analysis method to involve individual citizens and co-creation approaches to facilitate co-creation processes of mobility hub design involving vulnerable to exclusion population segments such as low-income, digitally underskilled, female citizens and refugees.
FOSTERING TRANSDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION AND THE JUST TRANSITION TO CARBON NEUTRALITY
In order to achieve the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality in the EU by 2050, several research disciplines need to collaborate building on new. Innovative transdisciplinary approaches, combining qualitative and quantitative methods and approaches to support the just transition. We are developing such transdisciplinary methodologies and networks beyond the field of mobility in collaboration with other disciplines such as sociology, geography, anthropology, architecture, urban planning and design, vehicle technologies, operational research etc.
Mobilise is a partner in the Social Sciences and Humanities for Climate, Energy and Transport Research Excellence (SSH-Centre) project that was launched in September 2022.
The project will engage directly with stakeholders across research, policy, and business (including citizens) to strengthen social innovation, SSH-STEM (Social Sciences and Humanities – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) collaboration, transdisciplinary policy advice, inclusive engagement, and SSH communities across Europe, accelerating the EU’s transition to carbon neutrality. Our project will directly address this challenge supporting cross-sectoral collaborations and empowerment of citizens and networks towards the development of socially innovative solutions for the EU’s climate transition. Mobilise is responsible for building SSH-STEM collaboration in the field of mobility.
Services we offer
- Design and analysis of travel behaviour surveys
- Impact assessment of mobility interventions and services
- Designing and conducting a co-creation process with citizens
- Stakeholder-based evaluation of mobility measures
- Decision support in complex multi-level contexts
- Scenario building to cope with uncertain futures