Cities of the future

Mobility-an issue of the future?

Si Urban: We hear complaints about increased traffic volumes from just about every city. What can be done to relieve cities in this respect in the future? Michael Hanita: As in all areas of life, we need to further develop our cities to keep up with the times. In my opinion, there is only one way to counteract the growing traffic volumes – to bet on further development of public transport networks. Only four to five people can be transported in one passenger car which is not going to be enough.

Picture: Puk Patrick on Unsplash


Buses and trams offer more space and, for this reason, they will be in higher demand in the future. I don’t believe that even a well-developed public transport network will completely push out personal vehicles from Picture: Pedro Gandra on Unsplash the streets but public transport will relieve inner-city traffic. What means of public transport do you think are best suited to fulfil this role?


If we look at the present situation, we must conclude that the streets are already overcrowded and not even buses can avoid getting stuck in traffic jams. This is why people will increasingly more rely on alternative means of transport. What I mean by that is that if the streets are already full, we need to look for solutions either underground or in the air.

Michael Hanita

Managing Director Infrastructure at Arcadis

Since December 2016, Michael Hanita has been working with the Cologne company Arcadis. His fields of activity include public transport, airports, waterways and harbors, but also mining industry and raw materials. Mr. Hanita has been focusing on the topic of infrastructure and its coordination for over ten years. City planning, landscape architecture and external consulting for government authorities have been a part of his diverse activities as well. He gained further valuable experience during the development of implementation strategies for large urban projects in Vienna

In Latin America, the concept of escaping surface traffic by going up in the air is already being implemented in the form of branched cableway networks. Do you think it is something that could work also in Europe? I like the idea of cableways but I think that their implementation takes way too much time here at the moment. Everybody would like to have cableways and understands their benefits but no one wants one to swing above or in the immediate proximity of their own land.

Picture: Pedro Gandra on Unsplash


Bonn is a perfect example. For years, there has been demand for a cableway to run up to the University Clinic because the street simply was not built for so much traffic. The project has been repeatedly delayed not because the concept is bad but because the residents oppose it. So you don’t think that multiple urban cableway networks will appear in Europe in the near future?


I would be happy if they did. I’d like to see a cableway running along the banks of the Rhine, for example, but I think people first need to see what a successfully implemented and also visually well-integrated project looks like to be convinced. Strict environmental requirements pose another obstacle. We have a lot of rules due to which diverse fauna and flora must be considered in any such project.


And also birds – an installation of this kind cannot be built in any major bird migration area, just to name some of the restrictions. If we continue talking about relieving traffic, what do you think about the pilot “Air Taxi” project planned in Ingolstadt? It sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to see what technology will be used to implement it. But if we look at the situation on some streets, perhaps it is not such a good idea to create something similar also 10 to 20 meters higher.


Not everyone has the ability to be a pilot. Are there any cities or regions that are already well-prepared for mobility issues of the future? The cities that have emerged in the last 30 to 40 years are probably somewhat better prepared to face such challenges than cities whose structure has been inherited from the past. Many European cities simply lack the space for large projects. Plus, we are talking about a dynamic field that is hard to calculate.


When the ring road was built in Vienna, the city was sure it was a great solution for the future. But, instead, getting stuck in the morning bumper-to-bumper traffic on it, you feel like you are on the city’s largest parking lot. The cities currently emerging in the Middle East, for example, are already planned in a way that makes them ready for future expansion. Does it mean that the only way to relieve the situation is to develop public transport?


Not necessarily only develop but also interconnect it to create networks. People’s flows need to be analyzed – where do people want to go and when – and the departure times coordinated. We need to create a situation where it no longer makes any sense to use a car inside a city because one can get to his destination just as fast without it.