The opportunity for transformation within Rural Mobility

Urban mobility is transforming our city streets.

Illustration by Jeanne Grafteaux, Senior Industrial Designer at NewTerritory.

There is an ever-increasing choice of innovative, slick and convenient mobility solutions being offered to city inhabitants, from ride sharing platforms to un-docked light vehicles, supported by a well-developed and embedded delivery infrastructure.

With the gradual return to some form of normality, many city dwellers will decide to forgo their cars, preferring the convenience, cost and health benefits of using public and shared transportation, particularly as hybrid working becomes standard and safety fears abate.

Money has poured into urban mobility, supported by governments and innovative start-ups working together.

The same cannot be said for rural environments, which have suffered from lack of investment into transport and mobility, leading to significant challenges for dependent communities which will continue long after the immediate effects of the pandemic.

The Government’s plans to transform our rail infrastructure through the ‘Great British Railways’ body is a step in the right direction for the rural environment, but it needs to be considered within the wider context of local mobility and travel, the first and last mile of the journey and how local communities can be supported and support each other through the development of shared transportation networks.

The rebalance of what constitutes a desirable way or place to live will lead to an influx of people into the rural setting, who will bring their experience and expectations of light-touch collective ways of travelling. This represents an exciting opportunity to not only take the learnings and innovations of urban mobility and configure them for the rural environment, but to see this as a sandbox to trial and develop new propositions of hybrid transportation of people and services.

The government is keen to rethink transport out of London and the rural environment and the unique needs of local communities provides the perfect framework to develop new and innovative services focused on collective stakes and shared resources, rather than personal ownership. From power and vehicle sharing to the re-routing and scheduling of buses based on real-time needs, equitable and dynamic solutions to everyday problems can be developed in the rural space which can then be fed back into the urban area. Doing so will not only benefit the daily lives of individuals and families living outside of city centres, but will provide a context to help improve the sense of community which is so often lacking from life in the urban environment.

Author: Hugo Jamson, Creative Director at NewTerritory.