One of the basic tenets of any transportation network is to provide mobility, yet there seems to be very little consensus as to what this (word) means. One issue in the U.S. is that historical political and planning decisions have led to a predominantly vehicular culture, favoring a uni-modal, auto-centric transportation network. Mobility, therefore, is often used synonymously with auto-mobility, leading to a misunderstanding of a transportation system’s purpose, even among transportation professionals.
Mobility is generally defined as the potential for movement or change in location of people and goods (Handy, 2002; Litman, 2011). This definition is absent of any mention of mode, yet traditional mobility measurements include car ownership rates, vehicle miles traveled or congestion levels, all of which focus solely on the automobile.
Unfortunately, though providing a definition of mobility and simultaneously acknowledging the term’s association with auto-mobility, Litman and other experts ultimately fail to challenge this pervasive misunderstanding. Continue reading