Cities Designed to Shape and Enable New Mobility

Experimentation at the Interface of Urban Design and Mobility

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With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, RMI is exploring and testing industry interest in a concept we’re calling MOD Cities, where “MOD” is short for “modular” and “modifiable” and also stands for “mobility-oriented development.” MOD Cities would be living test sites where local municipal governments, developers, financiers, the vehicle-service industry, and urban designers and architects actively collaborate to co-innovate at the nexus of urban design, vehicles, and new mobility services. MOD Cities would put people first and be seamlessly integrated with the communities and urban fabric at their edges.

Imagine a place—or combination of places—where groundbreaking urban design features can be complemented by innovative mobility services. A place where the vehicle-service and built environment industries can experiment in tandem and develop familiarity and ground-tested expertise about the relationship between their respective industries; where people can equitably participate in the design process, and the impact of new design features on people’s behavior, health, and livelihood can be concretely demonstrated and understood; and where policymakers from across the globe can directly observe the impact of enabling flexible and experimental approaches to urban design by revising zoning practices and land use codes.

With sufficient interest, an initial team composed of representatives from key stakeholder groups could take the next steps to further define the concept, develop an operating model, and implement MOD Cities. This report aims to explore the concept of MOD Cities while providing cities and other mobility and built environment stakeholders with a toolkit and illustrative case studies for experimentation that puts them in a position to more quickly unlock the full potential of new mobility in cities designed to shape and enable it.