Conference paper

Towards a Post-Car World. How (Not) to Experience the Future of Car Mobility

In the face of the depletion of oil reserves in the near future, the considerable damages wrought by the automobile assemblage to urban life, and the threat of global warming, it is crucial to imagine a future without the car in order to preserve the quality of urban life and to ensure sustainable mobility in general. Regarding the negative impacts of car usage, we identified three basic attitudes of (non-) preparation for the future, based on a review of the literature and interviews with urban design and mobility experts in Switzerland. The first attitude towards a car-less future centers not on exploring, but denying the need for change. Fatalism in the face of a global challenge is the second attitude towards the near future. The third is an avant-garde attitude: looking at past car uses to anticipate future trends. Thanks to specially-designed methods for exploring urban mobility, alternative ways of inquiring into the future exist. This does not consist of predicting, but in acting to make the future emerge. We can explore mobility futures by gathering the ideas and desires of urban inhabitants through projection and simulation, and with the help of actors already sensitive to changes that have impacted their mobility. Sensitization, attraction, projection, simulation enable researchers and urban designers to experience and propose potential futures with words, images, models, feelings and other kinds of perceptions. Using such empowering experiences of the future, it becomes easier to feel the need for more sustainable versions of urban mobility.

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