In search of solutions

Sustainable urban mobility is a global issue

Mobility in large cities was the central theme of the 2017 EcoMobility Congress held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Participants exchanged experience and together sought sustainable future solutions.


For a full month, Kaohsiung, a city in south-west Taiwan, had been a symbol of soft mobility. For one, we saw, on the occasion of the EcoMobility World Festival, what cities could look like if they reduce their car traffic. For another, a three days’ congress with global participation was an opportunity to exchange experiences in a lively international atmosphere.

Left: Camilla Ween is in favor of urban cableways. Center: Kaohsiung’s mayor, Chen Chu (in the middle) during a panel discussion. Right: Gregor Mews, Director of Urban Synergies Group Australia is reading SI Urban with interest. Photos: SI/MÜLLER


Behind the event, which takes place in a different city every year, stands ICLEI – a unique global association of more than 1,500 actively participating cities and communities that have made a commitment to sustainable development. The organization is characterized especially by working directly on site together with local authorities.

Kaohsiung has a population of nearly 2.8 million; one of the world’s largest ports is situated here as well. It is a city of bustling activity and overcrowded streets where thousands of cars and mopeds blaze their trails every day. But Kaohsiung is not the only place where one can see this picture: every large city is faced with the same problems and questions. What can be done to make people leave their cars parked and start using public transport? What alternatives exist? And how do we create usable urban space for local residents and their descendants?


Under the motto “Livable, Shared, Intelligent”, mayors, city planners, traffic developers, professors, marketing specialists and many others participants coming from a total of 53 countries, talked about their own cities and their efforts to find sustainable transport solutions.

Cablecars as an alternative

There was talk not only about carsharing, e-cars and e-bikes, autonomously driving buses etc. but also about cableways. Camilla Ween, Director of Goldstein Ween Architects from London, responsible primarily for urban planning and urban transport, is sure that people hate city traffic. “Traffic decreases the quality of life because it causes stress, air pollution and does not leave us any room.


This is why we need to generally free ourselves from being tied to the concept of a road.” She can well imagine a cableway such as that built in Medellin in other places.

Above: A moped is the most popular means of transport in Kaohsiung – the local subway, on the other hand, is hardly used at all. Left: Limin Hee from Singapore shared her experience from Singapore. She, too, believes in cableways as a sustainable alternative. Photos: SI/MÜLLER

“In Medellin, not only have transport issues been solved but also parts of the city that no one would have dared to step in 15 years ago have been opened up,” notes Ween. It is necessary to take into account traffic experts’ considerations regarding cableways as an alternative. “Right now, tradition and habit are probably what still discourages many planners from this solution,” says the expert.