What's New in City Design

Prioritizing Public Value in the Changing Mobility Landscape

This report looks at the values and goals cities affect with policies concerning connected mobility, and how to create a new framework that aligns with these objectives. The report makes the case for avoiding a narrow focus on discrete transportation modes and technology issues, and instead look for value frameworks that properly balance the growing number of users and uses in public spaces.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Unlocking value: As more users and uses vie for limited curb, street and sidewalk space, a value framework can replace traditional programs of free or low-cost infrastructure use (e.g., curb metering for one use - car storage) with dynamic assessments on usage.

Better understanding of the growing competition and conflicts: Managing mobility means managing a host of different, often conflicting, community voices, as well as multiple aspects of transportation at one time.

Designing for travelers: A user-centric lens allows mobility managers and designers to build services and infrastructure that meets (or exceeds) user needs and expectations.  Because technology companies often try to pre-empt local action, placing users at the center of the system requires companies to engage first.

Tips & Techniques

Introduction: First, the report identifies the transformative changes affecting cities and mobility: (1) the impact of connectivity on mobility; (2) growth in urban areas and gentrification; (3) E-commerce & deliveries; (4) the effect of digital maps; (5) and recognizing the high costs associated with parking the value of the curb.

Key Questions:

  • Access and equity: How do decisions increase or decrease access and for whom, and how do they mitigate or aggravate equity issues?
  • Environment: How do transportation decisions affect air quality and public health both broadly and within a neighborhood?
  • Sidewalk usage: How should we allocate valuable curb and sidewalk space?
  • Revenue: How do decisions regarding parking rates or regulatory fees affect both user behaviors and a city's ability to cross-subsidize other transportation modes?
  • Safety: How does a decision protect or endanger riders, pedestrians and bystanders?
  • Privacy: How should transportation-related data be protected, used, shared, accessed and stored to maximize both efficiency and privacy?

Articulating public value goals as they relate to mobility: (1) community engagement and  user-centric design; (2) improved public safety; (3) improved public health and sustainability; (4) equitable service delivery and access; (5) improved urban planning and parking policies; (6) and a review of what's at stake.

Next Steps: A future paper will expand on the application of values lenses.


Mobility and the Connected City Prioritizing Public Value in the Changing Mobility Landscape, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government January 2020