PhD project: Transitions towards sustainable multimodal personal mobility based on the local context

Increasing demand for transportation services worldwide is one of the main present-day urban challenges. This challenge has the potential to be solved from a sustainability point of view.

Traditionally transportation planning is looking at various issues related to vehicles, safety, maintenance, and vehicle- and infrastructure-related environmental impacts. Issues such as strategic land use and impacts on non-motorized travel are often overlooked. An integrated multimodal transportation system approach holds potential to contribute to a sustainable solution. Such an approach could contribute not only to a better customer experience, but also to operators’ and authorities’ effectiveness.

Multimodal transport

Sustainable development goal 11

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular goal 11 Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable and target 2 (by 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons), requires a fast transition to sustainable personal mobility. 

However, the same transition path would not be applicable for every country and for every city. The aim of this work is to review the state of the art and the state of practice regarding context adapted development of sustainable multimodal personal transportation solutions and to develop an enhanced process for the development of such solutions. The work will be informed by Strategic Sustainable Development thinking and include, e.g., literature studies and pilot case studies in several cities internationally.

Research questions 

The research is initially guided by the following overall research question: How could city authorities and decision-makers be better supported to make a fast transition towards sustainable multimodal personal mobility based on the local context?

Supporting research questions are:

1. What is the state of the art for context adapted city planning for fast transitioning of personal mobility towards sustainability?

2. What is the state of practice for context adapted city planning for fast transitioning of personal mobility towards sustainability in some case cities?

3. How can the main challenges identified during the pursuit of SRQ1 and SRQ2 be overcome?

4. How can a process that helps city authorities and decision-makers speed up their context adapted transitions towards sustainability look like?

What is a multimodal transportation system?

The integrated multimodal transportation system offers a range of modes of transport (and in some cases mobility as a service options), ideally integrated in a way that makes it easy to use for the customers. It can be achieved, for example, through ‘one ticket’ offers for public transport, so instead of buying a single ticket for every bus or tram it would be one ticket that would take you from A to B by any suitable mean of transport.

Sustainability Transitions Conference

The first results will be presented at the International Sustainability Transitions Conference in Gothenburg (18-21 June 2017). The poster entitled “Gaps in the sustainable mobility planning guidelines from a sustainability principles point of view” will be displayed throughout the conference and discussed at the poster session on the 19th of June between 14:00 and 15:00. More information about the conference

See also SustainTrans Research Team for more information and blog posts from Varvara Nikulina. 



Nikulina, V. (2019). Need for speed: towards urban planning for rapid transitioning to sustainable personal mobility. Licenciate thesis (Blekinge Institute of Technology Licentiate Dissertation Series No 2019:03). Blekinge Institute of Technology, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
Type: Academic thesis