Six UK cities make top 100 sustainable mobility cities

02 February 2018 5 min. read

Public transport remains a key driver in terms of city efficiency, environmental protection and well-being. A new report explores the world’s most sustainable cities in terms of mobility, with the UK boasting six cities in the top 100 most sustainable cities, with London in seventh spot.

Cities are supporting ever increasing numbers of people, as urbanisation continue apace. However, their sustainability is increasingly on the agenda as current practices clash with the reality of regional and global environments. As such, ICE cars are increasingly understood as producers of toxic pollutants, accidents and climate forcing exhausts, as well as the negative impact of their wider supply chains. Fines are also likely to become increasingly stringent as standards harden.

The rapid development of electric cars, as well as autonomous driving systems, are projected to significantly reduce their negative externalities; however, strong public transportation systems, as well as human locomotion, from walking to biking, continue to play a strong part in both human well-being, and wider city sustainability.Three pillarsIn order to identify the most sustainable 100 cities across the globe, in terms of their mobility, Arcadis has recently released its ‘Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017’ report. The report is based on mapping the mobility of 100 cities, across 23 key indicators. The cities are then ranked against each other across three key pillars: people, planet and profit. The data for the research was collected by Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) for the consultancy’s analysis.

The paper examined how efficient cities are at delivering a transportation system that can “simultaneously address and improve its functioning for all stakeholders, while facilitating economic opportunity without compromising environmental concerns.”

Top 10 cities

Hong Kong was dubbed the city with the most sustainable mobility system. The autonomous city state has a particularly strong ‘people’ profile, boosted by its modern metro system as well as 3G connectivity throughout the public transport network. The metro systems facilitate around 12.6 million passenger journeys every, at considerably lower costs than comparable systems in other countries – however, the city loses out on low pedestrian and bicycle options.

Top 10

Zurich, takes the number two spot, suffering from considerable congestion from private car use, but boosted by its relatively strong focus on public transport options – as well as plans to further expand its network. Paris takes the number two spot, due to the city’s strong focus on public transport, and its new more measured focus on increasing cycling and pedestrian options across the city. Seoul and Prague, the former with a strong performance in the people metric, and the latter in profit, round off the top five.

London takes seventh place, just behind Vienna. The UK’s capital has a strong showing in people and environment, although misses out on a strong profit sub-indices score. After years of a concerted effort to reduce congestion via a historic campaign of investment in public transport, the report notes that the current system will still need considerable investment, in order to stay on par with changes on the global stage.

The Next 20

European cities more widely perform well in the top 30, building on traditions, as well as moving quickly to make their cities more efficient, add sustainable capacity and move away from the wider pollution and congestion created by more inefficient forms of transportation.

Top 11-30

UK cities overall, perform relatively well in the top 100, counting six, including Edinburgh (#17) Manchester (#35), Birmingham (#38), Bristol (#38) and Leeds (#53). Edinburgh exceeding in people and environment, although congestion continues to hamper its score. While Manchester, as well as other ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities, are increasingly focused on improving public transport to improve commute times and wider productivity. 

In conclusion, the cities which had pursued bold moves of innovation and planned for future growth had seen the greatest sustainability and quality of life benefits. The authors stated, “With all the challenges that come from rapid urbanisation, policymakers must take note and become well informed of their options in order to be able to offer residents real social and economic benefits.”