Multilevel Scenarios of Urban Mobility

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Business book series (BRIEFSBUSINESS)


In this chapter we show that the socio-technical map (ST-map) can be useful to represent sustainability transitions also when multi-scalar dynamics are at stake. This is the case of urban mobility: it takes place at a local level, but some of its constituents—actors, policies, technologies—are national or global. The analysis starts with the consideration of the ST systems and niches that concur to (and compete for) the provision of urban mobility: the dominant system of the individual car; the subaltern systems of public transport and the bicycle; the emerging carsharing schemes. Also some locally dominant systems of integrated mobility are considered. These systems are then positioned into a ST-map built on two dimensions. The first dimension consider all the relevant political discourses on urban mobility: ‘Mobility as a driver of development’; ‘Mobility as a generator of harmful impacts’; ‘Mobility as a determinant of the quality of urban spaces’; ‘Mobility as a right’. The second dimension lists three alternative business models: ‘sell vehicles’, ‘rent vehicles’, ‘manage transport systems’. Starting from the ST-map of the current situation of urban mobility—and from the consideration of the ongoing changes—three alternative scenarios are proposed. The ‘Auto-city’ scenario emerges from the reconfiguration of the existing ‘individual car’ dominant system and is generated by the absorption of the producers of batteries. In the ‘Eco-city’ scenario a coalition of urban networks supports a new political discourse of urban mobility and foster the creation of new urban systems of integrated mobility. In the ‘Electri-city’ scenario local and national electric operators takes over the individual car system because they are interested in the integration of smart grids and electric vehicles, also in order to increase grid stability and reduce demand-supply unbalances, in particular in the case of renewable sources. Multi-scalar dynamics are at the heart of the proposed scenarios of urban mobility: the ‘Auto-city’ and the ‘Electri-city’ scenarios mostly result from global dynamics, where niches are used for experimentation; the ‘Eco-city’ scenario emerges from a two-dimension diffusion process: horizontally, at the local level, where dominant positions “migrate” from an urban area to another; vertically, from the local to the national level, in order to gain greater political support.


Urban mobility Car Network of innovators Sustainability transition Socio-technical map Scenario analysis 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DiSEAUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2.DICEAUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  3. 3.DIEMUniversity of GenovaGenoaItaly

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